It turns out that firefly procreation is pretty cool...
My info-fic picture book manuscript, Love Letters to a Firefly (on submission now), is inspired by their story. For more information, or to request a submission, contact me here.
Fun Facts About Fireflies
Fireflies aren’t flies at all; they are beetles with wings.
Fireflies belong to a group of living creatures that are bioluminescent which means they can light up a part of their body. Some creatures stay lit all the time. Some, like fireflies, can turn the light on and off.
Unlike a lightbulb or other sources of light, a firefly light is bright, yet it makes almost no heat when it shines.
There are about 2,000 firefly species living around the world in warm climates. The most common in North America is photinus pyralis. Pyralis comes from a Greek word that means, “of fire.”
Their light is more yellow. Other species have a more yellowish-green, amber, or green light.
The male flies with its head pointing up to the stars and its abdomen down to the ground. He makes a “J” shape in the sky with the lit part of his abdomen. Other species light in patterns that are different from photinus pyralis.
At dusk, female photinus pyralis rest on the grass or small shrubs and watch for the light from a male’s lantern that is most attractive to her. When she sees it, she responds with her own flash of light. The male sees her flash and flies to her. If all goes well, she will allow that male to mate.
Females lay eggs on the ground or just underground. The eggs hatch in about four weeks and are called larva or “glowworms.” Their main job is to eat, grow, and stay alive. They also have a light at the end of their abdomens. It tastes badly, so many predators stay away.
Larva hibernate over two cold winters and emerge in the spring. They create a pupa around themselves for up to two and half weeks and emerge as an adult firefly.
Researchers tell us fireflies can be at risk from:
Want to learn more about photinus pyralis fireflies? Check out:
Cratsley, Christopher K,. Sexual Selection in Photinus Fireflies: The Roles of Male Courtship Signals and Nuptial Gifts. Diss. Tufts U, 2000. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Crewdson, Gregory. Fireflies In Art. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. http://fireflies-in-art.weebly.com/photinus-pyralis.html.
Lewis, Sara, Ph.D., and Christopher K. Cratsley, Ph.D. "Tufts University Biologists Unveil More Mysteries of Fireflies' Flash; Length of Male's Flash Predicts Quality of 'Nuptial Gift'" ScienceDaily. Science Daily, 15 Apr. 2003. Web. 27 Aug. 2015. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030415083721.html.
"The Loves and Lies of Fireflies." Sara Lewis (Ph.D.):. N.p., Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Aug. 2015. http://www.ted.com/talks/sara_lewis_the_loves_and_lies_of_fireflies.
Lynch, Terry. "Number of Facets in Compound Eye of Photinus Pyralis." Number of Facets in Compound Eye of Photinus Pyralis. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015. http://www.byteland.org/fireflysem/photinus_eye_number_of_facets_calculation.html.
"Procedure for Surveys - Vanishing Fireflies Project." Survey Procedure : Public Service : Clemson University : South Carolina. Clemson University, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2015. http://www.clemson.edu/public/rec/baruch/firefly_project/firefly_procedure.html.
University, Clemson. Light Patterns. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.clemson.edu/public/rec/baruch/firefly_project/firefly_procedure.html.
Wild, Alex. "Alex Wild Photography with Keywords: Photinus Pyralis." Alex Wilds Photinus Pyralis Photos RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015. http://www.alexanderwild.com/keyword/photinus%20pyralis/.