A firefly, also known as lightning bug, has a short life during which time its only aim is to mate and procreate. The average lifespan of fireflies is around 2 months. On the other hand, firefly larva live for about one year, before it turns into an adult and mates. There are around 2,000 species of fireflies belonging to the family Lampyridae, which also includes glowworms.
Distribution of Fireflies
These beautiful glowing insects thrive in warm and humid climate. They are ubiquitous in tropical and temperate regions during summertime. They are found on all continents other than Antarctica. Fireflies live in fields, forests and marshes close to ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. These insects require a moist environment to survive.
When attacked, some species of fireflies exude few drops of blood through a process called reflex bleeding. The blood contains chemical compounds that give it a bitter taste. The blood can also be poisonous to some animals. As a result, most animals do not prey on fireflies -- and they should never be fed to pet reptiles.
Adult fireflies feed primarily on nectar and pollen. There are some species of adult fireflies that do not feed at all. Firefly larvae are carnivorous and eat snails and worms. The larvae inject an anesthetic fluid into the prey before consuming them. Some species feed on other fireflies, such as those belonging to the genus photuris. The female firefly from this genus imitates the flashes of another species, photinus, to attract the males and eat them.
Fireflies mainly use their flashing light to attract males, but the light is also a means of communication. Usually, it is the males that fly flashing their light, while the females sit in trees, grasses and shrubs waiting. If the female finds a male she likes, she starts flashing her light to attract him. Each species has its own particular pattern of flashing.
The light organ is present under the abdomen. Production of light requires oxygen intake which is sent to special cells in the organ. The oxygen reacts with a chemical substance known as luciferin which causes the production of light. The scientists are not sure about how the fireflies switch the light on and off. The light does not emit any heat. There are some species of fireflies where the larvae and eggs emit light too. According to scientists the flashing of light could even be a defense mechanism to warm predators about the insect's unappetizing taste.