The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll

Lightening Bugs

Because it was the only time I had and because of the heat, I headed out for a quick ten mile bike ride as the sun was setting. It was good and dark by the time I followed my headlight down the gravel road to my driveway. A single beam mounted on my handle bars doesn't put out near as much light as car headlights, so I was much more able to see the non stop light show put on by a few 100 thousand fire flies in the creek bottom.

If there is such a thing as our favorite insect, Lighting bugs or fireflies might be it. Fireflies are neither flies nor bugs; they are beetles, and there are 2,000 species on our planet.

Debbie Hadley wrote in 2019 in a article,  “An incandescent light bulb gives off 90% of its energy as heat and only 10% as light, which you'd know if you've touched one that's been on for a while. If fireflies produced that much heat when they lit up, they would incinerate themselves. Fireflies produce light through an efficient chemical reaction called chemiluminescence that allows them to glow without wasting heat energy. For fireflies, 100% of the energy goes into making light; accomplishing that flashing increases the firefly metabolic rates an astonishingly low 37% above resting values.

Fireflies are bioluminescent, meaning they are living creatures that produce light, a trait shared with a handful of other terrestrial insects, including click beetles and railroad worms. The light is used to attract prey and members of the opposite sex and to warn off predators. Lightning bugs taste bad to birds and other potential predators, so the warning signal is memorable for those that have sampled before.”

Scientists have developed uses for the enzyme that produces bioluminescence in fireflies. It has been used as a marker to detect blood clots, to tag tuberculosis virus cells, and to monitor hydrogen peroxide levels in living organisms.

I thought the light show was pretty cool as well.

The Caldwell County News

101 South Davis
P.O. Box 218
Hamilton, MO 64644
Phone: 816-583-2116

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