Fireflies, a Mystical Summer Attraction

Fireflies are also knows as glow worms, winged beetles or lighting bugs.

The light production is due to the chemical reaction called bio luminescence. The process occurs in firefly’s light emitting organ – usually the lower abdomen. A chemical reaction produces the light – when oxygen combines with calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP—the energy-carrying molecule of all cells) and a chemical called luciferin, when an enzyme called luciferase is present.

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Courtesy – Amit Agrawal @ Rajmachi

Quick Facts:

  1. Fireflies are neither flies nor bugs, they are beetles.
  2. There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies that are found in temperate to tropical climate. And only some of those species have the ability to light up.
  3. They emerge out during the spring.
  4. They talk using the light signals.
  5. Even the eggs and larvae glow in dark.
  6. They emit light throughout their life.
  7. They may be arboreal or carnivore (larvae) or cannibal (adults).
  8.  Photuris female firefly eats the male by faking the light signals.
  9. Males use their flash light to attract females.
  10. Their light shows are nothing but mating acts.
  11. They can emit either yellow, orange or green light.
  12. They are energy efficient.
  13. Fireflies have compound eyes and hence they are nocturnal.
  14. They taste bitter and are poisonous.
  15. Fireflies love moisture.
  16. Generally the male and female can fly. However, in some species, the females are flightless.
  17. Synchronous fireflies seem to be one of the wonders of the insect world. Imagine thousands of fireflies lighting up at precisely the same time, over and over, from dusk to dark. This simultaneous bio luminescence, occurs in very few places in the world: Southeast Asia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, U.S.A.

The factors that may be contributing to firefly’s decline include light pollution and habitat destruction. If a field where fireflies live is paved over, the fireflies don’t migrate to another field, they just disappear forever. In addition, climate change is another factor.

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Tree decorated with fireflies. Courtesy – Chetan Pendharkar @ Rajmachi

If you are in the outskirts of Mumbai, you should definitely head to places like Rajmachi, Bhandardara, Prabalmachi, and so on for the fireflies sighting. I was in Rajmachi last weekend with a team named Travel Trikon and trust me the beetles’ glow was surreal. Check the above image, shot during our visit.

What are you waiting for? Enjoy the magic of nature before it ceases!
In case you have already witnessed the nature’s diwali, do let me know your experience in the comments section.

Facts Courtesy: thoughtco, smithsonianmag, ecowatch, nationalgeographic, wikipedia

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