Pennsylvania Firefly Flashing
© E. R. Degginger/Color-Pic, Inc.
Now that summer is here (at least unoffically) many of us have begun seeing fireflies in our yards and gardens.
They’ve definitely arrived in the mid-Atlantic region as several folks on the eNature team have reported encountering them.
Despite their small size and preference for dark places, fireflies deservedly receive a lot of attention when summer arrives. And there’s a lot more going on than many of us realize…
Their remarkable green and yellow flashing lights have a hypnotic effect on people. Children in particular are drawn to fireflies. But the same throbbing glow that attracts youngsters often leads male fireflies to their deaths.
In warm-weather months, especially where open meadows and forests coexist, the adult male fireflies of most species set out on mating flights in the evening hours. The females, meanwhile, await their mates in the foliage, blinking seductively. The task for each male is to find an unmated female of its own species.
It’s critical that the female be unmated because in many firefly species the females change through internal chemistry into man-eaters once they successfully mate. Thereafter they use their blinks to attract meals. Some females even imitate the idiosyncratic blinking patterns of other species in an effort to attract as many unsuspecting males as possible.
It’s a fly-eat-fly world out there!