Common firefly head, SEM

Common firefly head, SEM

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Credit: DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Common firefly ventral body (Photinus pyralis). Photinus pyralisis the common firefly and is known as the Eastern, Common Eastern, or Big Dipper firefly. It is also called a lightning bug or beetle (family Lampyridae). The most commonly known fireflies are nocturnal. Shown here is the ventral view of the beetle with head, thorax, elytra and legs. Note the large compound eye and thorax shield that protrudes over the head. This beetle is named for its ability to flash its abdomen with a yellowish-green fluorescent colour. The firefly does this by using an enzyme (luciferase) to oxidize a chemical, called luciferin, in a chamber in its posterior abdominal segments. The firefly controls the flashes by regulating the amount of oxygen that enters the chamber. The flashes of light are used to attract mates. The production of light by an organism is known as bioluminescence. Magnification: x8 when shortest axis

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