Venturing into MACROs so . . .
This week's Critter is tiny.
Photuris pensylvanica, known by the common names Pennsylvania firefly, lightning bug,[ and (in its larval state) glowworm, is a species of firefly from the United States and Canada.
An iconic symbol of summer — the flashing firefly — is disappearing nationally but appears to be alive, well and thriving in Western Pennsylvania, according to experts.
• The firefly — officially named “Photuris pennsylvanica” — is Pennsylvania's state insect.
• The greenish-yellow light glows from the firefly's abdomen, the result of a chemical reaction.
• Fireflies use their light as a warning to predators at night and as part of a mating ritual.
• The glowing portion of fireflies was once used in medical research to track proteins in researching cystic fibrosis, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Now those materials are made synthetically.
• Firefly season in Pennsylvania usually runs through the mid-summer.
Whether you know them as Lightning Bugs or Fireflies, these are beneficial insects. They don't bite, they have no pincers, they don't attack, they don't carry disease, they are not poisonous, they don't even fly very fast. The larvae of most species are specialized predators and feed on other insect larvae, snails and slugs. (They are also reported to feed on earthworms.)
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