Fireflies or lightning bugs

A few days ago we visited Zagorohoria mountainous area (Ioannina, Epirus) for a three-day rejuvenation organized by Anahata Yoga Studio. The very first night we had a very pleasant surprise, the company of fireflies dancing in the dark! Memories rooted back to my childhood summers at the mountain villages of Agrafa (Karditsa, Thessaly), were emerged. For this reason, I looked for more information that I would like to share with you.

Fireflies are insects that appear like small lights in the Greek countryside in the summer (from June onwards). In my village, we use to call them butt-fire, for obvious reasons. They belong to Coleoptera class (commonly known as beetles), which are insects with a outer pair of leathery wings, called elytra, not used for flight, but having a protective role on the abdomen and the inner pair of wings. Their name comes from their ability to produce light in a biological way and emit it to the lower part of their belly. Of this radiance, only a 10% is light and the remaining 90% is heat. The phenomenon is calledbioluminescenceorbiofluorescence“.

This feature is indicative of attracting potential mates (reproduction), food or defense, depending on the light spectrum (gold, green or orange) and the emission frequency.

This biological function is based on the existence of the substance “luciferin” in the cells of the insect abdomen. Light is emitted when this substance bind with oxygen, in the presence of the luciferase enzyme that facilitates the reaction. Energy consumption (ATP) is also required, that is produced through other cellular processes. The quantity of light produced is infinitesimal but is enhanced by its reflection on uric acid crystals present in the same cells.

The grace of nature…

Dora Green