There are around 900,000 various types of insects in the world yet discovered. The discoveries are still going on, and scientists expect that the discovered portion only forms less than 80% of the total present on this Earth.
Out of these, fireflies are among the exceptional insects found on the Earth. They are exceptional because they glow and do most of their chores with their light.
What Are Fireflies?
Firefly is a beetle with wings that emits light from special organs present in the abdomen. There are more than 2000 species of fireflies. Fireflies are found both in the tropical as well as temperate regions. These creatures produce light of different colors like yellow, green, white, and more.
How Do Fireflies Emit Light?
You might be wondering how the light is emitted from living organisms? The interesting fact is that fireflies are not the only organism that produces and emit light. There are many other organisms, including glowworms and jellyfish do so.
The phenomenon by which living organisms produce light is called bioluminescence.
In the case of fireflies, the light is produced by the reaction of a chemical called luciferin with calcium, ATP, and oxygen in the presence of an enzyme called luciferase that catalyzes the reaction. These chemicals are present in their tails.
Fun Facts about Fireflies
In nature, every creature is made uniquely and has features that leave us in awe. Likewise, fireflies are one of the most eye-catching creatures we can observe in nature. Check out these interesting facts about them:
- Fireflies Communicate With Each Other Using their Light
These creatures have been blessed with one of the most intriguing features in the world. Apart from humans, animals have different modes of communication. Fireflies talk to their mates using the light they emit. They use light to communicate about defending their territory and keep the deadly predators away.
- Fireflies Use Light to Attract their Mates
They use light even to attract their fellow mates. Something only one sex can illuminate light while otherwise both the sexes are given the capacity to lighten themselves up. Usually, the male flies away, and the female sets in the tress to find themselves another male. If she’s fortunate enough to do so, she lightens up to signal it to a male firefly.
- The Light They Produce is Considered to be Cold Light
Another captivating fact about the fireflies is that the light they emit is “cold light.” This is so because no energy is converted to heat. This is the sole reason their light is considered cold.
- 100% of Their Energy is Converted into Light
Fireflies’ lights are among the most efficient lights in the world. About 100% of their energy is converted into light. On the other hand, man-made incandescent and fluorescent bulbs use not more than 90% of their energy for light.
- Fireflies’ Eggs Glow
Not only do the adults light, but the eggs also glow. However, this is only true for some species. The eggs glow only in response to stimuli like vibration or tapping. It is also true for the larvae of these creatures.
- Fireflies Eat their Fellow Fireflies
Certain animals in this world eat their fellows. Similar is the case with some species of fireflies. They feed on other fireflies because they are carnivores in nature. Some of their larvae also feed on snails and worms.
Genus photuris is one of the notorious species that acts to be female flashes of photinus. Photinus is a related species mimicking that attracts this species’ males. Once attracted, they get eaten and digested. This is only true for the larvae. Adult fireflies have never been reported to eat other bugs.
- Fireflies Have a Short Lifespan
Fireflies are among those organisms that have a very short lifespan. The average lifespan is not more than 2 years. It is a time when an adult firefly can lay eggs and give rise to the next generation.
- Fireflies Mimic Each Other
It has already been mentioned that some species of fireflies mimic other organisms of another genus just to eat them. They copy other organisms and succeed in killing the organisms of the same gender to minimize competition.
- Fireflies are Scientifically Very Important
Scientists have discovered many insects and animals to use for beneficial purposes. Different chemicals from the organisms can be used in science, including medical diagnosing and treatment of various diseases. Fireflies also have been used for similar purposes, and this has proven to be beneficial in medicine.
Fireflies have different chemicals for the emission of light. These chemicals include luciferin and luciferase, which are proven useful when injected into other organisms to study and diagnose diseased cells.
In addition to that, these chemicals have been fitted in the spacecraft to detect if life is possible in space or not. They are also used for detecting spoiled food and garbage.
- Fireflies Make Tasteless and Sometimes Poisonous Prey
It is one feature that may help their survival. When they are attacked, droplets of blood are shed that may be poisonous to some animals and, in turn, may be harmful to the predators. This is the reason many animals avoid preying on these tiny tasteless beetles. This information must be shared with the pet owners so that they should avoid feeding fireflies to their pets.
- Fireflies are Present in Humid Areas
Another important fact about fireflies is that they love to live in humid and warm areas. This is why they are found both in temperate as well as tropical areas. They appear in the summer seasons and are found in all the continents except Antarctica. They prefer to chill in the regions like forests and fields near marshes and pools. Some species are aquatic in nature, and they also possess gills.
- Fireflies Can Synchronize Their Flashing
Although this phenomenon is not that common, sometimes fireflies can synchronize their flashing with their fellows. The view is very mesmerizing and appealing to watch.
- Fireflies Can Glow in Various Colors
This also projects a spellbound landscape to one’s eyes. Some fireflies can glow in colors different from each other, such as yellow, green, red, or others.
These were some of the interesting facts discovered about fireflies. They can glow and utilize all of their energy in lightening up their bodies. This phenomenon of bioluminescence is used to do almost every chore, including feeding, protecting as well as attracting mates. Interestingly, there are several other animals that emit light besides fireflies – so, we can only thank the creator of all these creatures for providing us such beauty in this world.