This lovely article titled Catching Fireflies from Metro Parent caught the attention of one of our crew and I thought I'd share it with you.
Summer nights sparkle thanks to these meadow meanderers - by Jennifer Sullivan
The life of a firefly seems romantic, doesn't it? From about May through August, these twinkling insects can be seen dancing across the dark summer sky in search of a soul mate.
Fireflies, or lighting bugs as they are sometimes called, aren't really flies; they're actually beetles.
There are many different species of fireflies, many of which are bioluminescent, meaning they have the ability glow. According to Rochester Hills entomologist Dick Taylor, fireflies produce a cold light in their abdomens, caused by a chemical reaction. Different species of fireflies possess different flashing patterns, varying in sequence and duration.
On warm summer nights, males can be seen flying about attempting to attract a mate. Females, which stay close to the ground, will flash in response if interested. Her luminescent body acts as landing lights for the incoming male and mating takes place - sometimes.
Females will actually eat other species of fireflies, thus making courtship for the boys complicated. The females have the ability to mimic up to 11 different species. Taylor says, therefore being able to trick the male and lure him into her trap.
"By eating the males, the female acquires a poisonous substance which makes her distasteful to predators like birds and spiders," Taylor says.
So before the dance of the fireflies ends, Taylor encourages youngsters to observe these fascinating insects both in the wild and in captivity. Fireflies are best found in meadows, along the edges of streams and near woodland trails. Observing their true flashing patterns is best done in the wild, Taylor says. Try to find different species by observing the frequency of their flashes. Taylor also points out, "Wherever they are flashing, kids should look on the ground to see if they see a female flashing back."
To get a glimpse of them up close, Taylor recommends heading outside about a half hour after dusk and capturing them with a butterfly net. Put them in a glass jar with some damp leaves and don't forget to poke a few holes in the top. Remember, these little critters won't live past a week when captured, so be sure to always release them back into the wild.