Frank and Anna's fireflies
I've been thinking about fireflies a lot lately. My yard has been filled with their magic light--more so than other years.
UW Extension bug guru Phil Pellitteri said this has been an especially good year for them.
Gazette reporter Frank Schultz was also inspired by their presence in his yard, and wrote about them in his blog. Check it out: A thousand points of light
Gazette columnist Anna Marie Lux wrote about fireflies in 2003, and here's what she learned:
A firefly, or lightning bug, adds oxygen to an enzyme located in organs near the tail of its abdomen. The resulting reaction creates the familiar glow....
Phil Pellitteri.... tells me that each of the 12 species of fireflies in Wisconsin has a different flash. All this glittering is really a conversation about sex, with the males doing most of the talking.
Hoping to attract females, the males turn on their lights. Lady fireflies wait on the leaves of bushes and weeds. If one likes a certain glow, she will signal back until the male finds her, and they mate.
“It’s not a whole lot different from a single’s bar,” Phil explains. “If she’s interested, she’ll flash back. Ifshe isn’t, she’ll stay in the dark.”
Each species has a unique mating-code light, ranging from yellowish to green to orange. It’s not only a matter of color, but also of time lapse between flashes, intensity of flashes, even the length of the flash pulse. These things may not seem important to us, but among fireflies during courtship, they spell procreation.
And mating isn’t always easy. I read in one book that the male firefly can travel six-tenths of a mile in one night and flash 500 times in his search for a mate.
....A firefly, or lightning bug, adds oxygen to an enzyme located in organs near the tail of its abdomen. The resulting reaction creates the familiar glow.
These harmless, slow-flying beetles are called Lampyridae, a word that comes from Greek and meaning “lamp fire.”