MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Do fireflies come in more than one color?

Date: Mon Jul 31 22:15:19 2000
Posted By: Ingrid Dodge, Grad student, Immunology
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 962032015.Zo

Dear Heather:

As you are probably aware, fireflies are actually not flies at all, but a 
type of beetle (Coleoptera).  The fireflies belong to a family of beetles 
called Lampyridae.  They are distinguished by their ability to generate 
flashes of light by causing a chemical reaction in their abdomens.  This 
chemical reaction occurs when the firefly combines luciferin plus the enzyme 
luciferase in the presence of oxygen.  The flashes of light that result are 
used to attract mates, or in the case of at least one species, to lure males 
of other firefly species their death at the hands of a predatory female 
waiting on the ground.  All fireflies are predators, eating other insects 
and small invertebrates.  There are about 200 species of fireflies in North 
America, that come in a range of colors and patterns (and flashing 

For some more pictures of and information about fireflies, consult:

RE White 1983 A Field Guide to Beetles of North America.  Boston: Houghton 	

	Mifflin Co.

And the links:


Fireflyer Companion - a 
firefly newsletter

Ingrid :)

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