By Dutch Editorial Board Contributor,
Fleur Oosterlee

A light. Another light. More and more small, colourful lights create a beautiful scene when you look out of your window, over a meadow. These beautiful, almost magical, lights are caused by fireflies. They make magical moments with their glowing tails.

But what are fireflies exactly? Why do they glow? And how can their tail light up?

Why fireflies glow is a very good question. It all starts when they are a larva. Scientist believe that the light of a firefly serves a different purpose for larvae than it does for adult fireflies. In case of the larvae it is a warning light, that alerts anyone on the hunt for a snack they may be better off looking somewhere else.

With adult fireflies, researchers believe it is to attract a mate and find the true love of their life. The light is kind of a blink of an eye. Female fireflies know what they are looking for when they see the light of a male firefly.

Red, orange, yellow and green. Almost all the colours of the rainbow… Okay, that is not true, but there are some colours the light of a firefly can look like. Yellow is the most popular colour that the little insect produces. But besides that colour, they can also produce red, green and orange light.

Funny fact: 😕 the firefly is not a fly. It’s actually a beetle. 😮

But… firebeetle? That sounds weird and it is more difficult to say than firefly. That is why the firefly got the name ‘firefly’ and not ‘firebeetle’.

These ‘firebeetles’ do not need new batteries or electricity to put their lights on. No, their light is science. Each blip of light is produced by a chemical reaction between luciferase, a special protein, and oxygen. Once the chemical reaction begins, the result is a bright little light.

Fireflies shine a little light in nature and hopefully we can use their light system in our households. But that is something for in the future