Why fireflies spark, and why now's the time to check them out

By WKTV News

The 4th of July and all the fireworks have passed, but the best light shows of summer happen now . Just take a short ride to the countryside and see for yourself.

With perfect conditions of a heavy snow pack this past winter, along with a wet spring and humid nights, it's given us a bumper crop of beetles know as fireflies.

Dr. Chris Cratsly of Fitchburg State University said, " What you're seeing is an incredible courtship going on between male fireflies and female fireflies. "

The light they produce is done with a reaction between chemicals in their bodies and the bio- luminescent flashing differs with each species.

" We might have one species that produces a single flash and another species produce two flashes in quick succession and then waits and produces another two flashes."

And if that wasn't complex enough, there's a species that mimics another to trick them into landing and then eats them.

When the fireflies first emerge from the ground in the spring, their biological clocks are ticking away and they've got about two weeks to mate and produce next years stock which will wait patiently underground until next spring.

Wondering why you don't see any were you live, well.. in order to make it through the day, they need tall grass to shade them during the hot summer days and undisturbed soil to make it past our harsh winters.

These beetles are also used in research labs because the chemical glow can be traced.

They're season is almost over so now's the time to take an evening and enjoy this marvel of nature.

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