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a child, I'm sure most of us have collected a few fireflies and put
them in a jar. Their magical light captivated us (at least for a few
precious years) in our youth. Fireflies are a familiar insect of warm
summer nights. Did you know that these insects are actually nocturnal
(meaning they come out at night) beetles? They are members of the
family Lampyridae. Most fireflies have wings, which distinguishes
them from other luminescent insects of the same family, commonly known
are about 2,000 different species of fireflies. These insects live in a
variety of warm environments, as well as other temperate regions.
Fireflies love moisture and often live in humid regions of Asia and the
Americas. In drier areas, they are found around wet or damp areas that
everyone can see how fireflies got their name, but many people might
not know how these insects produce their signature glow. Fireflies have
dedicated light organs that are located under their abdomens. The
insects take in oxygen and, inside special cells, combine it with a
substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat.
light is usually intermittent, and flashes in patterns that are unique
to each species. Each blinking pattern is an optical signal that helps
fireflies find potential mates. Scientists are not sure how the insects
regulate this process to turn their lights on and off.
Firefly light may also serve as a defense mechanism that flashes a clear warning to would be predators: Don't eat me - I don't taste good! The fact that even larvae are luminescent lends support to this theory.
deposit their eggs in the ground, which is where larvae develop to
adulthood. Underground larvae feed on worms and slugs by injecting them
with a numbing fluid.
typically feed on nectar or pollen, though some adults do not eat at
all. Sounds amazing, but adults typically don't live any longer than 2
months. (National Geographic)
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