Thursday, June 27, 2024

The Flashing Lights of Love and Death

The fireflies are out now in my little section of Maryland, and the dogs are both fascinated and confused by the soft drifting glows that wink on and off.

They might be more confused if they knew these were two different insect species within two different genera. 

Both nearly identical-looking insects emit yellow-green light from the enzymes Luciferase and Luciferin, but the flash of the male Eastern Firefly, Photinus pyralis, is used to attract females, while the flash of the female Pennsylvania Firefly, Photuris pennsylvanica, is used to lure males of the Eastern Firefly in order to prey on them. 

So does that flash of light mean love or death?

Prey or predator?

As in so many things, it depends on who you are.

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