You would not believe your eyes if ten million fireflies Lit up the world as I fell asleep. Cause they fill the open air and leave teardrops everywhere. You would think me rude but I would just stand and stare.
These are the lyrics of Fireflies by Owl City and it is also something you are about to witness this summer. Imagine a dark night, lit up only by fireflies, as far as you can see. Magical indeed!
So what is so special about fireflies?
Firstly, they are not flies, they are beetles! Yes, they belong to the beetle family distinguished by wings and a glowing bottom. The oxygen they breathe, combines with a substance called luciferin stored below their abdomen to produce cold light.
Fireflies are of different types
There are about 2000 different types of firefly species! You can tell them apart from their lightning patterns. Photinus pyralis is the most common of them all.
They come in more colors
While you may have seen only green or yellow, fireflies can emit orange and blue colored lights too depending on the type of species.
It’s a mating ritual
Fireflies use their signature glow to attract the opposite gender. They don’t get all flashy for nothing, you know! They also use the light to communicate with each other. The higher the flash rate of the male, the higher are its chances of finding a date.
Also a defense mechanism
What fun is your special power if not used to scare away enemies huh? Even the larvae glow in the dark to stay safe from predators.
They don’t live long
Sad, but true. An adult firefly lives only long enough to produce more fireflies. Mating is usually in the weeks before monsoon sets in as these creatures love humidity.
Fireflies are carnivorous
Yes, these gentle looking heavenly insects can actually eat each other, only in some species though. Not what you expected right?
Fireflies can blink in sync
Believe it or not, there exists some rare species of fireflies that imitate each other and twinkle in a perfectly well synchronized manner. They are found in only few parts of the world.
Light pollution a cause for concern
Fireflies wait until absolutely dark to start emitting light. Its obvious that artificial light hampers their communication with each other, thereby leading to less mating and less larvae. Nature’s own light show may be in danger.
Fireflies near Mumbai
Too much of light at night in our megacity makes it difficult for fireflies to breed in large numbers here. But they are not too far either. Just a hop, skip and jump away, are a number of spots known for firefly sightings. You can look up Prabalmachi, Rajmachi, Purushwadi and Bhandardara to check out these bio luminescent bugs in action.