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Nature’s Living Light

Summer is a great time to observe one of the wonders of nature:  bioluminescence, the “living light”. Some organisms such as fireflies, click beetles, sea creatures, and even mushrooms are able to produce their own light through chemical reactions.  Unlike the sun or light bulbs that produce heat, bioluminscence is a cold light with colors of green, blue, red, and yellow.

Our most familiar bioluminescent bug, the firefly, is not a fly at all but a beetle.  Both males and females flash their lights as mating signals, but only the males can fly.  Fireflies have poisonous compounds similar to those in toads, so while attracting the opposite sex, the flashing light may also warn predators away.

The brightest bioluminescence in the natural world belongs to the fire beetle, a click beetle with glowing headlights and a tail light.  The glow is bright enough to read a book by and it comes with a dimmer switch!  Even the eggs and larvae glow.

For family fun this summer, take some time to explore nature’s living light.  More information on fireflies can be found here:

Firefly glow

Fire beetle

Fire beetle