Firefly Delight Additional Information

Recommended Web sites:

To learn more about fireflies, go to (Tufts University), (Museum of Biological Diversity, Ohio State University), or (Purdue University).

Sohn, Emily. 2005. Detecting an eerie sea glow. Science News for Kids (Oct. 5). Available at

______. 2004. A butterfly’s new green glow. Science News for Kids (March 17).

Available at


Light Pollution and Fireflies

Books recommended by SearchIt!Science:

A Firefly Biologist at Work— Sneed B. Collard III

Published by Franklin Watts/Scholastic, 2001.

When firefly biologist Jim Case was traveling throughout Southeast Asia, he saw something that amazed him. The fireflies in the Papua New Guinea highlands all flashed at the same time! When hundreds of thousands of these “synchronous” fireflies flash, they create an interesting light show. For Jim, it was more than a gorgeous spectacle. He wanted to figure out why the fireflies behaved this way. Read about Jim’s expedition to Malaysia, where he studied synchronous fireflies, and learn about how Jim became a leading biologist. While this Wildlife Conservation Society book is full of information about fireflies, it also tells the story of how one man pursued his curiosity through a life of science. Learn about Jim’s recent research with wind tunnels, how you can communicate with fireflies, and why fireflies are at risk.

Animals That Glow— Judith Janda Presnall

Published by Franklin Watts/Scholastic, 1993.

Imagine a worm that lights up like a tiny toy train. There’s a bright red light on the worm’s head! Beetles blink codes to each other using lanterns in their tails. And some kinds of fish have built-in headlights to help them make their way through the murky ocean depths. All these light-producing creatures are using bioluminescence. With color photographs and diagrams, this book shows how fish, glowworms, fireflies, and other insects and marine creatures use this light. Some creatures light up to communicate, while others do it to camouflage themselves, lure prey, or frighten enemies. The book features an explanation of what causes bioluminescence.

Nature’s Living Lights: Fireflies, and Other Bioluminescent Creatures— Alvin Silverstein

Published by Little, Brown and Co./AOL Time Warner, 1988.

Forty cucujo beetles can make as much light as a 60-watt lightbulb. To light their houses, people in the Caribbean keep these beetles in jars. This book explains bioluminescence, the chemical reaction by which animals create light. The book also describes creatures that have this ability—from the firefly to the railroad worm to the flashlight fish. It discusses the life cycle of the firefly, explores the ways in which animals use bioluminescence to communicate and to find food, and describes how people use bioluminescence.

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Power Words

bioluminescent Giving off light as a result of chemical reactions that take place in the tissues of the body. Some insects, fish, fungi, and bacteria are bioluminescent.

enzyme A molecule that helps start or speed up chemical reactions by acting as a catalyst. Enzymes are proteins and are found in the cells of all plants and animals. They play a part in all body activities, such as digestion and respiration.

firefly Any of various beetles that are active at night and produce a flashing light in the abdomen. The flash is produced by a chemical reaction and enables males and females to find each other for mating.

Copyright © 2002, 2003 Houghton-Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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