Lightning Bugs – A Short Life Of Glory

Lightning Bugs
Lightning Bugs

Fireflies are well-known, but how many of you out there realize that these nocturnal insects belonging to the Lampyridae family are actually beetles. They are widely known as lightning bugs or fireflies for their obvious display of bioluminescence chiefly during the onset of darkness at the end of the day to attract prey or mates.

Most of them are winged in nature, which differentiates them from various other luminescent insects associated with the same beetle order known as Coleoptera.

Lighting bugs normally produce what is called as the “Cold Light” which is free from ultraviolet and infrared frequencies.

The light produced by lighting bugs can be pale red, green, or yellow, with wavelengths ranging between 510 – 670 nanometers.

The Phengodidae family of beetles is also referred to as “Glowworms” in American subcontinent.

Generally, both the female and the male have the inbuilt-capability to fly, but there are certain species in which only male lightning bugs fly.

In The Article

Lightning Bugs - Habitat

  • There are more than 2000 known lighting bugs species.
  • They normally reside in a range of warm climatic conditions, almost entirely in tropical and temperate climates.
  • Usually found in places where there are abundant food supplies to enable larvae to grow, they can be traced to wet wooded areas and marshes.
  • Lightning bugs larvae discharge light and are fondly referred to as “Glowworms” in places including Eurasia.

Lightning Bugs – Lifespan, Size

Lightning bugs are commonly called as Fireflies. They belong to the Invertebrates family. Mostly omnivorous in disposition, their average lifespan is not more than 2 months. They normally grow an inch (maximum) in appearance or size.

Lighting Bugs Description

  • Lightning bugs normally appear in brown color with soft bodies, with front wings or elytra, more durable and hard.
  • Larviform females are a common sight in firefly species. Due to their compound eyes, they are easy to identify from the larvae. Fireflies are by and large nocturnal and there are certain species which are diurnal too. Most of the diurnal lightning bugs are not glowy in nature.

Lighting Bugs Season / Lighting Bugs Reproduction

  • The female lightning bugs ordinarily lay its fertilized eggs underground or above the ground. The eggs normally take a minimum time of 3 to 4 weeks to hatch, enabling the larvae to feed until the summer months come to a close. The larvae have eyes and are usually called as glowworms.
  • In Lampyris noctiluca family, both the larvae and adults are referred to as glowworm.
  • Lightning bugs lie dormant over winter mainly during the elementary stage and there are certain species which hibernates for a whole lot of years. They seek refuge under tree barks or undergrounds and emerge when spring starts.
  • After pupating for a period close to 2 to 2.5 weeks, they emerge as grown-up Meanwhile, they feed on other worms, snails, and insects.
  • They are skilled predators and feed on slugs, snails, and on larvae at times. Some fireflies feed on nectar or pollen.

Lightning Bugs Diet

  • Fireflies usually feed on other worms, snails, and insects.
  • They are skilled predators and feed on slugs, snails, and on larvae at times. Some fireflies feed on nectar or pollen.

How Fireflies or Lightning Bugs Glow In The Dark? / Lighting Bugs Bioluminescence

  • Lightning bugs are gifted with light-emitting organs that are conveniently located in the lower abdomen segment.
  • They process oxygen inside specifically designed cells, melding it with a unique chemical called as luciferin to generate light remarkably without heat.
  • Varying from one species to another lightning bugs have a different light pattern, some are intermittent and flashes follow patterns.
  • Each and every blinking pattern is a visual signal that helps lightning bugs to find potential mates. However, researchers still do have any conclusive understanding of this lightning pattern.
  • The lighting bugs light might also act as a solid defense mechanism that indicates a clear signal of the insect’s distasteful taste. As a matter of fact, even larvae appears luminescent in character.

Are Lightning Bugs Poisonous To Humans And Other Vertebrate Predators?

  • Most lightning bugs are awful to eat and can be poisonous to other vertebrate predators. They contain a toxin known as “Lucibufagins” which are toxic cardiotoxins mostly found in plants and toads. This toxin can be harmful to birds, amphibians, and lizards.
  • Remember, if by mistake humans consume them, they are beneficial only. Being non-toxic in nature, they do not carry any disease or attack humans or have any pincers.
  • They do not have the capacity to fly too fast or to bite.

Fireflies Vs Lightning Bugs

  • Fireflies are scientifically and medically useful because they contain luciferin and luciferase in their tails which lights up when it comes into contact with ATP (adenosine triphosphate). When these chemicals are injected, they have the ability to study diseases ranging from muscular dystrophy to other harmful diseases.
  • Certain species of fireflies are known for the synchronous flash patterns they create for communication purposes. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one such place in Tennessee located in America where these fireflies display their magical prowess.
  • In Photuris species of fireflies, the female fireflies will consume their unsuspecting male counterparts.
  • The reason for the growing decline of fireflies can be attributed to habitat destruction and light pollution – when a field inhabited by fireflies are paved, they vanish from the spot and do not migrate to other locations.
  • A certain species of fireflies in America is known as the “Blue Ghost” because they emit an eerie green or blue light. The males in this species can fly whereas the females lack wings and appear in white or pale yellow color.
  • In Kansas west, it is not possible to spot a firefly even though the conditions are humid and warm for the fireflies to make merry. The most diverse lightning bug species can be found in Central & South America and also in Asian tropics.
  • Lightning bugs can emit light in orange, green, or yellow.
  • The easiest way to differentiate between a male and a female firefly is with their flashing behavior. Males normally flash during flight while patrolling an area and the females will respond with a flash if interested.

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