Why do Fireflies and Lightning Bugs Glow in the Dark and what causes it?

Fireflies glow in the dark to attract mates. Males fly around flashing the world in a pattern of dots and dashes that is very specific to their species.

Female fireflies wait until a male flying nearby flashes the correct signal for their species, and in return, she flashes him with her own light. They meet and create beautiful luminescence together.

Light production in fireflies or lightning bugs is due to a type of chemical reaction called bioluminescence. This process takes place in specialised light-emitting organs, usually on a firefly’s lower abdomen or belly. Enzymes, in the presence of magnesium ions and oxygen produce light.

The enzyme is also useful in the medical industry.

The females of some firefly species prey on the males of other species. They lure the males by imitating the mating signals of the other species.

A oblivious suitor flying too close gets eaten.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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