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The firefly is actually a beetle and not a fly at all. Fireflies can grow to 9 centimeters in length and are easily identified by their flat bodies, blackish backs, large eyes, and short antennae. Of course, fireflies are most readily identified by their bioluminescent abdominal region. Both adults and larva are capable of glowing. Even firefly eggs glow!
HABITAT AND RANGE
There are over 2,000 species of firefly inhabiting the temperate and tropical regions of the earth. Fireflies are found in a variety of habitats, especially forest edges, wooded backyards, and areas near streams or ponds. Some firefly species, however, are found in desert regions. Fireflies are most common in warm, humid areas of the world. South and central America and southern Asia support the greatest diversity of firefly species. In North America, fireflies that glow are typically found only east of the Great Plains.
Firefly larva are predators and feed on earthworms, snails, and slugs. Larva can detect the slime from a slug and follow the trail to its prey. Scientists believe that adult fireflies feed mostly on flower nectar.
Fireflies produce light by initiating a chemical reaction of Luciferin, Luciferase and Oxygen. Amazingly enough, the firefly "light" is extremely efficient – about ten times more energy efficient than a light bulb. Most scientists believe fireflies light up to advertise to predators that they taste bad. When fireflies are disturbed, the frequency and intensity of their glow increases. Fireflies also glow as a means of communication between males and females. Scientists believe that certain aspects of a male’s flashing pattern (such as frequency of flashing) are more attractive to female fireflies and increase his chance of mating.
Play Firefly Nights – a super fun, firefly-themed game in which players create a firefly flash pattern, and then identify it in increasing groups of fireflies with different flash patterns!