There are a few things in this world, that please us more immensely. These include setting yourself free, by jumping out of a plane, having no ropes attached, just a parachute. That is why people pay thousands of bucks for Sky Diving, to have the experience of what it is like to be free. Looking at a beautiful and meaningful painting also please us. If we understand the meaning, we would just keep on staring it for hours, just because it says a lot. The evergreen example is “Mona Lisa”. But the most common and unusual things pleases us the most, the things that we can see in our day to day life, and among them are small flashes of lights in a dark, wet area, that keeps on flying and it seems as if they are approaching you. The thing that is even more amusing is thousands of such flash lights flying together in a swarm. These so called insects are called Fireflies or Lightning Bugs.
Lightning Bugs is a misnomer as fireflies or lightning bugs are neither insects nor bugs. They are beetles, that have wings. They are equipped with hardened fore wings, which render them in the category of beetles. A few interesting facts about fireflies are mentioned here.
- Breaking the Mystery – Light of Fireflies
It has always been a topic of discussion that how fireflies produce light? Their body works in a mysterious manner. They produce a chemical called luciferase, which combines with oxygen to produce light. It is still a mystery that how these beetles are capable of switching these lights on and off on their will, but at least the mystery that how they are capable of producing light has been solved.
- Efficiency of Light produced by them
Fireflies are known as the most efficient light source on this planet. They produce a light in such a manner that they don’t emit ultraviolet or infrared radiation. In simple words, the light produced by fireflies don’t produce heat. If we consider the amount of heat that a conventional light bulb would generate, considering that the amount of heat is same in both the cases, the heat would simply incinerate the firefly.
- What do fireflies eat?
One doesn’t usually see a firefly sitting on a flower, trying to suck its nectar like other such flying insects. So what do these fireflies consume? Usually the larvae of fireflies consume small animals and insects like snails whereas the diet of adult fireflies are known to have two theories of their diet. It is said that a few fireflies are cannibals, that is they consume other fireflies of their own kind. There is another theory about fireflies that a few of them don’t consume anything throughout their lifetime after they have achieved their younghood. The discrepancy between these two theories is made to reach a common conclusion by placing the fact that a few species of these beetles are cannibals, while a few of them have no need to consume anything. If attacked upon, these fireflies undergo a rapid bleeding process, in which they release their blood containing some distasteful chemicals, making these beetles, distasteful. The chemicals produced by them are also said to be poisonous for a few living beings.
- Why do they flash?
The flashing action of fireflies have various theories, but the most prominent of these theories are that male fireflies flash to attract a partner for the purpose of mating. A few believe that fireflies use their flash for the purpose of communication. It is also said that each firefly has a significant pattern of flashing their flashlights. In some regions of the world, fireflies sync their flashlights. Imagine a scenario where thousands of fireflies would be flashing their lights at the same moment.The light lts at the same moment and goes off at the same moment. That would be a scene, the human eyes would crave for.
It has been seen that fireflies live for the purpose of carrying on their generation only. They don’t have a long life. They lay eggs and mate, and then die. That is their lifespan. The young ones follow the same cycle. It seems that they just survive from one mating season to another.
The nature consist of numerous species having various strange qualities. From the tendency of a chameleon to the tendency of a firefly to produce light, everything is a gift of nature. Capturing these fireflies in a glass jar having small holes at its cap used to be a childhood game. After catching them, we used to take them in the dark and observe the beautiful light produced by these beetles, and it feels good that the present generation’s kids are also amazed by the light producing capability of these beetles. Fireflies are also used in medicinal purposes. Luciferase produced by them is used scientific researches, food safety testing and even in forensic tests, as this chemical on reaction with oxygen has the tendency to produce light. Although synthetic luciferase is being produced nowadays, but still some countries depend on fireflies to obtain this chemical.