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What Makes a Firefly Light Up?

Photinus_pyralis_Firefly_3Have you ever wondered why fireflies make that nice glow? If so, the reason is that this is their way to attract a mate. Both females and males of the species will use their light to communicate with fellow fireflies. Each species has its own unique pattern that signifies to other insects that it is a member of that species. The male and female fireflies use blinking lights to communicate. Their light varies between red, green and yellow colors. Green-colored- light is used to choose a mate.

How a Firefly Lights Up

For the firefly's famous glow to happen, a few chemical reactions have to occur in the firefly's body. Within the firefly's abdomen, there are specialized cells that are responsible for making light. These cells work by using a chemical called luciferin and an enzyme known as luciferase. The luciferin combines with oxygen to create a molecule named oxyluciferin. From this mixture of oxygen and other chemicals, light is given off as oxyluciferin is released from the insect's body.

The Mysteries of the Firefly

While the mechanism for creating light is known by researchers, scientists are still unsure about how a firefly creates a blinking light pattern. They think that these patterns could be controlled by the insect's oxygen supply or nerve cells, but are still uncertain about the exact cause.

Professional Help

While watching fireflies is a favorite summertime activity, some insects are not as enjoyable to have around your home. If you’d like more information on controlling a number of insects, contact Clegg’s Pest Control. Or you can call on the phone at 888-672-5344 for a complete evaluation of your home or business.

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