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FIREFLIES Blinks and Links Fireflies, biolumenescence, luminology and other natural sciences links Presented by Terry Lynch Artist, Poet, Philosopher and Naturalist Light Dance of the Firefly What is that glowing orb Which flickers through the night Bobbing oh so bright, Bringing wonder to the woods, Magic to the meadow, Sparkle and delight To all children's eyes? Why it's the courtship dance Of the fireflies Flashing in synchrony, Their signaling a song Played in light As crickets do Chirp in tune. TAL 1 March 1999 Gold Ribbon Campaign Free graphics for sites which promote freedom of press on the internet. Introduction I began my studies of fireflies in 1968, reading every article I could get my hands on and conducting observations in my backyard laboratory. These mason jar experiments sparked my curiosity and led me to visit with Dr. John Bonner Buck at the National Institutes of Health in Betheda Maryland. Dr. Buck was one of the first people to make scientific studies of fireflies, trying to determine how they could flash in synchrony. In his youth he also studied Photinus pyralis, a species of firefly I was most interested in, given it occurred throughout the southeastern U.S. and was the species most easily collected in my backyard. My early studies of fireflies included repeating with Photinus pyralis the classic experiment by Robert Dubois into the nature of bioluminescence . This experiment sparked my curiosity and I later made a number of original observations and discoveries related to the species Photinus pyralis. My early firefly studies and observations are reviewed in Firefly Notebooks: Techniques with respect to the collection, observation and rearing of the firefly P. pyralis and Photuris with notes upon the feeding behavior of Photinid and Photuris larvae and the implications these contrasting behaviors have on evolution of the species in fireflies. I was the first person to observe that the adults of P. pyralis exhibits two distinct preflight behaviors: a rest position and an alert position. I also developed a method for collecting and rearing P. pyralis from the egg stage through the first instar larvae stage. I believe I was the first person to note that diethyl ether could be used to enhance and increase the duration of the glow of very small young larvae to enable their easy collection. I also discovered that the life span of P. pyralis could be extended feeding the adults beetles a honey/water mixture. In 1968-69, I also observed the effect upon spider venom upon the flashing of P. pyralis when this species was captured by a wolf spider Lycosa sp. At least in some cases these big, nocturnal hunting spiders don't seem to be effected either by the flashing of P. pyralis or the taste of its milky white blood, which has been recorded by Thomas Eisner of Cornell University to repel some predators, particularly daylight active jumping spiders. I suspect the apparent immunity of some nocturnal spiders to the the repellant nature of lucibafagins may be an evolutionary characteristic expressed by spiders because it is at least as advantageous to the survival of these spiders as it is for Photinus to avoid becoming spider food. While visiting briefly with Dr. Buck in 1968, he showed me my first living railroad worms and encouraged me to seek out Dr. James E. Lloyd at the University of Florida which I did in 1970. I spent a few months at the Department of Entomology and Nematology where Dr. Lloyd taught courses in entomology and audited his Entomology 101 course. During this short period I labored to collect and rare fireflies but found this to be a daunting task, given little was known about the diet of young firefly larvae. Because I was not in an economically stable situation, I had to interrupt these early studies. However my interest in fireflies and luminescent animals has not waned. Rather it has matured through time. Over the years I've had the opportunity to teach myself much about entomology and insect behavior in general, having read and studied widely upon the subject of insect communication and firefly behavior. Because I've studied fireflies from the perspective of an amateur naturalist rather than an academic professional, I bring a different perspective to the arena. That is to say the romance and poetry associated with these marvelous insects interests me as much as the mysteries associated with their courtship behavior. Having reviewed much of the scientific literature written upon fireflies, I have an intimate knowledge of these insects. Because no degrees or professional jealousies are attached to my studies I may relate them in an open, free, noncompetitive manner, my purpose in doing so only to inspire other young naturalist to study fireflies. Given I am a web master with a certain love for firefly studies, I'm endeavoring to create a firefly world upon the Internet which may help educate and motivate other young entomologists and amateur scientists I have also had occasion to dabble somewhat in the study of aphids, crickets, cockroaches, flies and other insects. One of my most interesting observation is that of alate Drosophila melanogaster and its response to acceleration. In genetics laboratories the vestigial variety of this fly is reared because it can not so easily escape into the laboratory. Hence these flightless fruit flies with their partially formed wings are the most commonly studied varieties. Yet I reared and studied the alate, wild variety, keeping a culture going for well over a year in my kitchen so I might observe their mating behavior and experiment with various culture media. I was most impressed by the reaction of these flies to a sudden acceleration. See Application of Torque to Induced Simultaneous Flight Response and Synchrony in Drosophila sp. The winged Drosophila, reared in mass, exhibit a synchronous response to change in motion. It appears to be acceleration, not perception of motion (as a hand waving to alert the resting flies), which causes these flies to jump and fly. When a mason jar containing several thousand alate Drosophila is suddenly rotated the fruit flies leap in synchrony to the sudden induced torque. This is a case where a synchronous response results because each individual responds to the same physical perception of a change in force. It may be similar in nature to the response of individual fireflies tending to blink in unison to the same physical perception of light flashing which then results in the synchronous blinking of individuals in mass. Synchrony in fireflies is the result of a physical stimulus, the perception of a light flash, and then a response, in this case a flash of light. Although it may seem difficult to understand how a mass of fireflies can blink in synchrony, it becomes easier to understand when one observes that each individual initially responds by blinking in response to another's flash. Obviously as each individual joins a flashing group, you end up with a mass of synchronous flashing fireflies. Seeing a mass of Drosophila melanogaster exhibit a synchronous response is what made me realize synchronicity in fireflies was nothing more than such a basic stimulus-response reaction which takes upon its own majesty and mystery when observed in mass! Although the stimulus-response reaction in fireflies may be somewhat more complicated, given it involves interplay between individuals, it is basically the same type of stimulus-response observed in its most basic form in alate Drosophila responding in mass to change in torque. What is most interesting about this observation of basic synchrony is that it may be easily repeated and observed by anyone who takes the time to rare wild fruit files. Hence it is an observation that may be enjoyed and shared with any group of students studying entomology or animal behavior. In fact it is a lot easier to observe the synchronous response of Drosophila to change in torque, than to fly to Bangkok to observe fireflies blinking in synchrony in the mangroves. I invite you to explore these links and write to me if you find this site useful. I am especially interested in hearing from anyone who is actively conducting work with fireflies or other luminescent animals and may have articles or links I may add to this site. Also I would like to add links to pages related to insect communication or entomology and the natural sciences in general. If you have a web page dedicated to the natural sciences, let me know. Please reply to: Terry Lynch . 4 March, 1999 The Amateur Naturalist In the future I will be posting experiments and observations for the amateur naturalist. These may include challenges and exercises for those who are interested in nature study. My goal here is to inspire other young people and hobbiest to learn from their first hand study of the natural universe. Links may also be provided to sites on the internet which explore or present some aspect of natural science study. Included may be art or literature which relates to or is inspired by observation of nature. Firefly Links Firefly Notebooks: How to rear fireflies by Terry Lynch Techniques with respect to the collection, observation and rearing of the firefly P. pyralis and Photuris with notes upon the feeding behavior of Photinid and Photuris larvae and the implications these contrasting behaviors have on evolution of the species in fireflies. Presents photomicrographs, drawings, diagrams and methodology with respect to original research related to the rearing of fireflies. Firefly via Yahoo Photinus via Yahoo Photinus pyralis via Yahoo The Fireflyer Companion and Letter by Professor James E. Lloyd aka The Firefly Doctor. Firefly Links by Donald Ray Burger, Attorney at Law An good collection of firefly links by a Houston attorney who dreams of bringing back fireflies to the Houston, Texas skies. Pic of Photinus Love can be lethal for male fireflies Cornell Study regarding Photuris eating Photinus. Lured and Liquidated Gullible male fireflies supply 'femmes fatales' with a lifesaving chemical Cornell biologist report mimicry and murder in the night. Excellent photos of Photuris preying upon Photinus and spiders preying on Photuris. Bioluminescent Communication Home page of Dr. Michael D. Greenfield who studies biocommunication Female fireflies prefer flashiest males by Kay Albright Article by J. E. Lloyd of Jamaican Flower firefly This is one variety of firefly Lloyd recommends be studied as it is unique in its behavior. Requires Acrobat Reader . Sexual selection in fireflies by A. D. Carlson and Vencl, F. V. Has nice pic of P. pyralis. The Firefly Files Produced by Marc A. Branham of Ohio State University, this site is, "dedicated to the sparks of bioluminescent light that inspire awe and wonder around the earth." Earth and Sky . A script about fireflies from the radio program. Summer Night Lights A brief introduction to fireflies by Genny Fennucchi for young people Search Florida Entomologist for Firefly = 5 hits 3 Mar 1999 Florida Entomologist, v. 81, n. 3, p. 261 Florida Entomologist, v. 80, n. 1, p. 120 Florida Entomologist, v. 81, n. 3, p. 282 Florida Entomologist, v. 81, n. 2, p. 243 Florida Entomologist, v. 80, n. 1, p. 132 Bioluminescence and Marine Bioluminescence Bioluminescence in Fireflies The luciferase-luciferin reaction in Photinus pyralis by Terry Lynch. UCSB Bioluminescence A bioluminescence web site from the University of California Santa Barbara. Earth and Sky Trans. Transcripts about bioluminescence from the radio program. Analysis of firefly lucirferas A very interesting article on the genetic structure of this protein Bioluminescence Genetic Transplants This site reviews experiments which transplant the bioluminescent luciferase gene (ptac Luc) of P. pyralis into bacteria and the medical or other applications of this technology Lucirferase Reporter Gene Detection This site presents applications and techniques using the luciferin/luciferase light production reaction and its applications to measure ATP, cytotoxicity, etc. General Entomology Links Entomology via Yahoo Insects via Yahoo Insects by Type and Topic via Yahoo Beetles via Yahoo The Florida Entomologist , published by the Florida Entomological Society is the first long-published, refereed, natural science journal on the Internet. You can now view, search, or print any article published since December 1993 by accessing on line files. Printing an on line article produces the equivalent of a reprint or high quality photocopy. Effort is being made to make earlier issues available on line. Requires Acrobat Reader available free from Adobe . IFAS Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at University of Florida. This site has links to the Department of Entomology and Nematology at U of F and Insects Software. Entomology Index of Internet Resources Insects! A site developed for teachers. Hot Books: Entomology The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees by Karl Von Frisch, Karl Von Frisch, Thomas D. Seeley, Leigh E. Chadwick (Translator) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos by Vincent G. Dethier Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com The Compleat Cockroach : A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Despised (And Least Understood) Creature on Earth by David George Gordon Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Army Ants : The Biology of Social Predation (Cornell Series in Arthropod Biology) by William H., Jr. Gotwald Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Introduction to the Study of Insects by Donald Joyce Borror, Charles A. Triplehorn, Norman F. Johnson Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com A Field Guide to Insects : America North of Mexico (Peterson Field Guides) by Donald Joyce Borror, Richard E. White Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders by Lorus J. Milne, Margery Milne (Contributor) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com The Encyclopedia of Insects by Christopher O'Toole (Editor) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com The Practical Entomologist by Rick Imes Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Introduction to the Study of Insects by Donald Joyce Borror, Charles A. Triplehorn, Norman F. Johnson Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Bagging Big Bugs : How to Identify, Collect and Display the Largest and Most Colorful Insects of the Rocky Mountain Region by Whitney Cranshaw, Boris Kondratieff (Contributor) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com The Evolution of Mating Systems in Insects and Arachnids by Jae C. Choe (Editor), Bernard J. Crespi (Editor) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com The Passionate Observer : Writings from the World of Nature by Jean-Henri Fabre, Linda Davis, Marlene McLoughlin (Illustrator) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Fundamentals of Entomology by Richard J. Elzinga Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Guide to Observing Insect Lives by Donald W. Stokes, Deborah Prince (Illustrator) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles (Henry Holt Reference Book) by Arthur V. Evans, Charles L. Bellamy (Contributor), Lisa Charles Watson (Photographer) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Life on a Little-Known Planet by Howard Ensign Evans, Arnold Clapman (Illustrator) Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Bugs in the System : Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs (Helix Books) by May R. Berenbaum Presented by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com Amazon.com -- These are just a few of the hundreds of books that are in print on entomology and insect study. I recommend that you search for your favorite book on Amazon.com. Suggested search words are: entomology, insects, spiders, behavior, beetles, bees, honeybee, etc. You may use the convient search engine below which is offered by Project K9 in association with Amazon.com. Top of Form 1 Search: Enter keywords... Bottom of Form 1 Other Natural Science Links Go USA You can't study nature unless you get out in it. This site will get you into the great outdoors. Just do it! Natural Science via Yahoo Other Lynch Links Kollage: The Greatest Portal It's "K"ollage as in Kmart or Kellog. Kollage is your link to the world! Project K9 For dog lovers only! This site has information about all breeds of dogs. Friendship Force Fostering friendship between people of all nations to promote world peace and goodwill. After Life Songs -- John Denver Tribute Poem/songs inspired by John Denver Electronic Art Kit Every thing you need to know about web site design USA News Links Bookmark this page and start every day reading the news on line. Electronic Resume Experience the out-of-this-world electronic resume of Terry Lynch Acknowledgements This site was created using Hotdog and Web Express. The background art was produced using Photo Suite and is an enhancement of a firefly graphic snipped from Marc A. Branham's The Firefly Files site. Many of the links were located using Yahoo, Info Seek, Excite or other search engines. This site is best viewed with MS Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. Blinks and Links, Project K9, EArts, USA New Links, Friendship Force, Go USA and The Amateur Naturalist by TAL are registered trademarks and the copyright property of Electronic Arts and Terry Lynch. Copyright 1999-2001 by Terry Lynch. All Rights Reserved.


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