Nature’s night light

There seems to be an increase in the number of firefly spottings this year in various parts of North America. The population increase may be due in part to a wet spring.
Firefly (Lightning bug) range
2 Antennae


Fireflies light up to attract mates or ward o predators

In the spring, after mating a female will lay her fertilized eggs — about 500 — on or below the surface of the ground.

Fireflies have a bad taste, and predators will link their glow to a bad taste.

COVERED HEAD outlined in yellow

It takes 3-4 weeks for the eggs to hatch

There are about 2,000 firefly species. 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 retain moisture.

THORAX While the firefly is in the larvae stage of their life cycle they are often called glow worms since their luminescence can be detected even before the eggs have hatched. Larvae begin to feed on small animals such as snails and other garden pests. The larvae stage can last 1-3 years.

How do they light up?
Fireflies produce a chemical reaction inside their bodies that allows them to light up. When oxygen combines with calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the chemical luciferin, a bioluminescent enzyme, light is produced. The firefly’s light is produced during a chemical reaction. The light emiting organ consists of three layers:

Wings are dark brown edged in yellow

2 pairs of wings under wing covers ABDOMEN (under wing covers)

Pyralis Firefly
Photinue pyralis
The adult stage lasts only a few weeks, during which reproduction is their main goal. After about a month, the new adults appear and look for mates.

Reflector Light cells,
where reaction takes place

Last segment of abdomen lights up, flashing bright yellow-green

The feeding process will continue into the fall at which time the larvae hibernate in underground burrows until the following spring. When spring arrives, the larvae appear and feed until the first months of summer.

At this time they form small pods made of soil in which to pupate. When feeding, fireflies inject poison to immobilize and liquify their prey, allowing them to suck up their meal. A developing firefly pupa.

Transparent exoskeleton

The blinking light
When oxygen is available, the light organ lights up, and when it is not available, the light goes out. Scientists have been able to confirm how the firefly controls this.


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