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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Fire Flies

The June 2005 issue of "Smithsonian" magazine has an article at page 38 about fire flies. The more interesting facts are:
1. they are bettles not flies;
2. they live in the ground as larvae for two years and as winged adults for two weeks;
3. as adults, they are focused on finding mates and that is where the flashing comes in;
4. fire flies west of the Rockies don't flash but use pheromones to find mates;
5. the flash occurs when two chemicals, luciferin and luciferase, react in the latern part of the tail in the presence of oxygen;
6. in the eastern US, there are three common genera and each has a different signaling pattern.

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