The fireflies are out

Unlike the cherry blossoms, peonies and other flowers the lightning bugs came on time this spring.

I saw my first fireflies on the first of June. They may be called fireflies sometimes but they are not of the fly family, but rather they are in the beetle family.

Lightning bugs eat earthworms, snails and slugs. I like the slug choice. As they fly around your yard they are really doing a mating dance. The male bugs fly around sending signals by illuminating their light.

The female bugs remain on the ground or perched on low lying vegetation responding to the signals from the males above. The length and timing of the illumination becomes a complicated mating dance.

Some males that are attracted to a signaling female that she deems not suitable for her is eaten.

This process gave rise to the term ‘femme fatale’. Wow! That’s some serious rejection.

How do they produce their light? It is a chemical reaction. We are not exactly sure how they control their illumination. Some believe it is related to restricting oxygen.

Nearly 100 percent of the lightning bugs’ bio-luminescence is given off as light. The old light bulb generates 10 percent light and emits 90 percent heat.

Lightning bugs are limited to the eastern United States. We usually do not find June Bugs west of Kansas.

If you want to attract them to your yard then cut down or eliminate chemicals on your lawn, leave some low hanging tree branches and reduce the ambient light, such as spotlights.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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