Xplor More: Flashy Facts

By MDC | May 1, 2022
From Xplor: May/June 2022

Fireflies talk to each other with light. A male firefly’s twinkling tush is like a neon sign. “Here I am,” it blinks. “Do you like me?” Female fireflies blink back when they spot a male they fancy.

More than 150 kinds of fireflies live in North America. Many species live in the same place, so males and females need a way to pick out their own kind. That’s why each species has a unique blinking pattern. For example, male big dipper fireflies light up for a solid half second while flying in a J-shaped pattern.

Some female fireflies copy the flash pattern of other females. When a male arrives hoping for love, the female liar-fly grabs him and eats him for supper. Sometimes, love hurts.

Firefly Fun: 1, 2, 3, Flash

Lure a male big dipper firefly right to your fingertips by mimicking the female’s flash. When you see a male finish his J-shaped flash, immediately count, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three,” then flash a small LED light for half a second. Repeat until the male arrives.


This Issue's Staff

Artist - Alexis (AJ) Joyce
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Designer – Les Fortenberry
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Laura Scheuler
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber