Christmas (lights) in June
The fireflies have been numerous and active the last few nights. I am aware that there are much better images of firefly lights on the internet – but I couldn’t resist posting these. Although entomology isn’t my specialty my best guess is that these belong to the genus Photuris, and are very likely Photuris pennsylvanica … the state insect of this Keystone State. It may interest you that the luminescence is caused by the combination of two chemicals, luciferan and luciferase, and that the combining of these materials is under the nervous control of the animal. [By the way fireflies are beetles (Coleopterans) and are neither flies (Dipterans), as in firefly, nor bugs (Hemipterans), as in lightning bug.] The lights are generated by both males and females as sexual signals. Certain Photuris females are known as femme fatale fireflies because of their habit of mimicking the mating signals of other species as a way of attracting males as meals. If you look carefully at each of the photos below you can make out the flight paths of certain individuals. [Half way down on the left side of the top photo you can see 6 – 8 flashes all in a row …. don’t know which way the animal was going … if movement was to the right the flashes are dim and then very bright … if movement was to the left they are first very bright and then dim.] Finally, the collection of flashes which define a brief moment of flight seem to mimic the constellations. What do you think?