Why Do Glow Worms And Fireflies Produce Light?


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Kath Senior Profile
Kath Senior answered
The lamps of insects that produce light usually have a function in the insects' reproduction. Adults have an average life expectancy of only a month and, during that short time, they need to attract a mate and reproduce to form the next generation.

The adult form eats only small amounts during its life, using the energy it has accumulated during its larval stage. It spends all of its time trying to attract a mate by flashing with its abdomen. Different species flash at different time intervals, so that each one can recognise the opposite sex of the correct species.

One Thai species of gloworm uses the property of being able to synchronise the flashing of its light as a sign that it is a fit mate. Colonies of male glow worms collect together and start flashing to attract a mate. After a while the males adapt the frequency of their flashing to match those around it, and all of the colony flashes on and off at the same moment. The females chose their mates from the synchronised flashers at random but they avoid those that can't get their rhythm right as unsuitable fathers for their offspring.

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