Lightning Bugs-Lampyridae

 

Lightning Bugs- Lampyridae

"Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,

And here on earth come emulating flies," wrote the poet Robert Frost, describing the beetles of the family Lampyridae-the fireflies, or lightning bugs. Extremely common, lightning bugs are usually seen on spring and summer evenings and are easily recognizable by the blinking yellow light they emit from the lower portion of the abdomen.

The lightning bug itself is a fairly drab insect. Like the Drilidae, the females of the Lampyridae are often wingless and larviform. In many species, the males, females, and larvae are luminescent. The larviform females and larvae are often called glowworms.

The firefly's light is produced by the oxidation of a substance called luciferin, which is contained in the luminescent organs of the insect's abdomen. The firefly regulates or flashes its light by admitting air to the luminescent organs, thereby providing fuel for the oxidation process.

In the beetle's light-producing organs is also found an enzyme called luciferinase, which acts as a catalyst to the reaction. The oxidation process is especially interesting in that nearly all the energy produced is given off as light. Virtually no heat is produced. The energy released by a light bulb, on the other hand, is only about 10 per cent light; the remaining 90 per cent is heat.

The lightning bug's rhythmic blinking is thought to be a mating response. Each species has its own particular rhythm, and some coleopterists can identify specific species by the patterns of their flashes.

The larvae of the Lampyridae often feed on snails. The larvae stab their prey with their long mandibles and inject a digestive enzyme. The enzyme turns the body of the snail into a liquid which the young beetle then sucks from the shell.


 

INDEX : Insects   January 11, 2016 02:25:59 PM