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Firefly + Windshield = Glowing green splat

July 06, 2008 @ 17:59 By: gordon Category: General

There seem to be a lot of fireflies this year.

I saw lots of them while out geocaching at night last weekend and they were out along the 416 last night.  These little beetles are members of the Lampyridae family of the order Coleoptera and they generate light through the combination of an enzyme called luciferase and luciferin through a process called bioluminescence.  Something like 90% of the energy consumed in the process actually turns into light, compared to just 10% for an incandescent light bulb.

The flashing is pretty specific, with many species of fireflies having their own flash patterns used by the males during courtship.  But the females of the genus Photuris mimic the mating flashes of other fireflies to invite them over for dinner.  Unfortunately, their "guests" find themselves on the menu.

Their victims might take a small amount of solace in the fact that when you smack into one with your car, they leave little splats on your windshield that continue to glow for about a minute.

One Response to “Firefly + Windshield = Glowing green splat”


  1. 96well says:

    This protein from fireflies is also used in research to track cells or even gene expression. In fact, luciferase is a reporter gene, and scientists exploit its brightness to shed light on our inner biology.
    Do you know, actually there are even some luciferase-mice? You can read more about it on http://www.reportergene.com



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