Sunday, June 6, 2010


There are many bioluminescent organisms - including insects, mushrooms, fish, and squid - but the one with which we are likely the most familiar is the firefly or lightning bug. Catching them in a jar is a childhood rite of passage. Fireflies flash to attract mates, and each species has its own flash pattern. In some species, only the males light up, but when both sexes do, they enter into a "flash dialogue" before hooking up. Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction involving enzymes, magnesium ions, and oxgen that occurs in special light-emitting organs in the lower abdomen. Some large groups of fireflies (notably in Southeast Asia, but also in the American states of Tennessee and South Carolina) are able to synchronize their flashes. I got a big kick (and a lot of laughs) out of having a flashing butt in 2002 (see Halloween slideshow below)! The trails of the fireflies above were captured by a German photographer using a tripod and long exposures as he stood in the woods in the summer in the middle of the night...

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.