Fireflies over a farmyard in Iowa

Fireflies over a farmyard in Iowa

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Credit: KEITH KENT/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Fireflies (visible as faint streaks of green light) gathered over a farmyard in Iowa, USA. Members of the family Lampyridae, these harmless, nocturnal beetles exhibit bioluminescence, the ability of an organism to emit visible light. The energy system for the bioluminescence is of extremely high efficiency, no excess heat is produced, and involves enzyme reactions with oxygen. The insect regulates the flashes of light by controlling the amount of air admitted to the bioluminescent organ, located on its abdomen. The flashing lights enable fireflies to signal their presence to one another, this is of special importance during the mating season.

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Keywords: animal, bioluminescence, firefly, insect, insecta, invertebrate, invertebrates, lampyridae, nature, wildlife, zoology

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