Some 2000 species of this beetle roam the world. The family to which fireflies, a.k.a. lightning bugs, belong is the Lampyridae. They produce light of the same wavelength as our sun (510 and 670 nanometers). The sun produces this light as a consequence of the sun’s high temperature ~ 6000 Kelvin. Fireflies produce the light by means of luciferin and the enzyme luciferase by chemical reaction in need of oxygen, ATP and ADP.

Lucifer the firefly has a rep sheet: called natural history.

2 hours of making light and flights during which time they try to find and attract ready fireflies.  Females are usually flightless. Males usually fly around in search of these sedentary girls with the flash abdomens. Coitus happens. Parents die. The eggs are as free range as you can get. The eggs hang around (incubate) on a twig or a blade of grass for more than a month. This is followed by the blessed event and the death of the parents. The hatched larval (off-spring) are decidedly carnivorous to a fault. Snails and slugs the preferred eats. Snails and slugs leave a trail of slime on where ever they go. It doesn’t take a bloodhound to trace them to what will be carnage. 

When not flying and dating, they make light of their work with phosphorescence light from the last three segments of their abdomens. Not only do adult fireflies make light, all the kids (larvae) do as well.  Hidden in the grass they glo little glo worm glimmer glimmer. Is what is, is.  Glo worms are firefly larvae!

Most people (kids) see only the firefly in its glory, usually during fireflies' imprisonment in glass jars. Youngsters will smash the hinny of a firefly and smear the luciferin on their faces like war-paint. The smashed firefly will still emit light.

The firefly, aka: The light Bearer.  The Archangel. The Devil. Venus the Morning Star. Lampyridae, glow worm, lightning bug. For you with some antiquity to display with some pride. 

“Glow little glow worm” was the signature song of the Mills Brothers in the 1950s.  The lyrics were by Hank Thompson.

Shine little glow worm!


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