Text Only Version

FIREFLIES Another interesting insect which will be flying shortly is the `firefly' or `lightning bug.' These beetles, both larvae and adults, are predaceous. Larvae feed on other insects, snails, slugs and earthworms. Adults are well known for their flashing, an important part of their courtship and mating. There are 23 genera and about 200 species of Lampyridae in North America.

During summer months fireflies rest on plants or in trees during the day and are most active between dusk and midnight. The firefly light is called a "cold light" because it produces almost no heat. It is produced when oxygen, breathed in combines with a substance called luciferin in the presence of the enzyme luciferase, in special cells called photocytes.

Female fireflies lay their eggs in the soil which hatch in about four weeks. The carnivorous larvae sometimes glow and are known as "glowworms," though there are wingless adult females of certain Lampyridae also known by that name. Some firefly eggs also glow. After hatching the larvae spend the summer eating and then dig small tunnels in which to overwinter. In spring they emerge to forage again, pupate and eventually emerge as adult fireflies.

If you are interested in attracting fireflies to your garden Dr. Marc Branham, Ohio State University (http://IRIS.biosci.ohio-state.edu:80/projects/FFiles), says -

Cut down or eliminate using chemicals on you lawn.
Reduce any "extra lighting" (photic noise) on your property, as this light interferes with the fireflies luminous signals (i.e., it is harder for fireflies of many species to locate mates in such areas). Also many firefly species are active only during a certain period of the evening. These insects determine when they will flash (i.e., the time of night) by the intensity of ambient light. This is why you don't see many fireflies flashing on clear nights when the moon is full.
Additionally, low overhanging trees, tall grass or similar vegetation will provide adult fireflies a place to rest during the day and remain cool.

While these tips may not guarantee you success in attracting fireflies to your yard, they may certainly improve the odds.... Additional information may be obtained through Oklahoma State University, and Texas, but by far the most information was from the University of Florida and Ohio State. (pictures and information on fireflies were obtained via the Internet from Univ. of Fla, Ohio State and other locations)

Happy Bugging! Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Box 9775
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837


mail comments to burger@burger.com

[Go Back to My Firefly Page]

[Go Back to My Home Page]