It has been an entire year, but with a good rain behind us, the lightning bugs have returned “right on time.” Hopefully, this will be a good year for these delightful beetles. Be sure to visit a wooded area with moist soils some evening.
Lightning bugs (or fireflies) produce a heat-free source of light through a biochemical reaction. The light flashing patterns are used to attract mates. Different species have different flash patterns. There are even flashing predator beetles which attract a meal by mimicking the flash of the female and wait for their meal to arrive. In some species, the larvae, which live in shallow soil, are known to glow, also. What could be better than the miracle of light coming from an insect? How about . . . the larvae eat snails and slugs! It doesn't get much better than that.
Steve Bambara, Extension Entomologist, NCSU