Thursday, July 23, 2009

Filing Cabinet: Fireflies

Herewith, a link to a New York Times science section article on fireflies (and a little glow of thanks to Global Swarming Honeybees, for reminding me to go back and check it out).

Every now and then you read something that adds a whole new dimension to your world, and this is one of those things.

I’ve never thought much about fireflies, except all those flashing lights can seem pretty magical and the insects themselves seem almost gentle.

Turns out a trained observer can tell one species from another by the way the bugs blink.

Moreover, it’s a mating thing. The male fireflies fly around and flash. The females remain on the ground, occasionally signaling back, carrying on a conversation with up to ten of the boys in an evening as they try to decide which one to reproduce with.

So there you have it: you're staring lazily into the summer night, but you’re really in the middle of a giant singles scene. That random flickering is really a highly evolved code. The night is talking all around you.

Illustration: KC

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