Sept. 16, 2022


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This podcast episode we talk about the Firefly! Relax, unwind, and join me near the brooks, where we learn all about nature's greatest performers.


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hello everyone welcome back to relax with animal facts I am Steph wolf and today I am going to be learning with you about our furry scaly or possibly even slimy friends and again today we have a creature that does not seem to fit any of these categories because we are covering the %HESITATION soul wonderful firefly this of course is a very very special listener episode dedicated to Audrey who has been listening to the show since the very beginning and I'm sure that many of you listening probably have that in common with Audrey so thank you very much Audrey for your wonderful suggestion I hope you enjoyed your very own episode and if you would like your very own episode and to learn about a creature that you find interesting you can request an animal in three ways you can send a message via Instagram to the handle relax with animal facts you can go to relax with animal facts dot com and click on the animal request tab and you can always email relax with animal facts at the G. mail dot com I always get excited when I get to new emails or messages from you guys so please don't be shy I'm sure you all have animal suggestions that the rest of us would love to learn about now just before we hop right in if you love relax with animal facts and you would like more of it the patriotic page relax with animal facts is constantly being updated with exclusive episodes right now we are in the extinct animal mini series where so far we have covered the megalodon the dodo the Tasmanian tiger and the woolly mammoth and so if you would like exclusive episodes as well as to support the show you can go to Petri on dot com slash relax with animal facts or just go to the little link in the show notes and as we were starting the show I'm just going to say where I caught my facts from because this episode would not have been possible without these resources all of these facts come from Smithsonian mag dot com kids adults National Geographic dot com firefly dot org blogs dot Scientific American dot com and at him online dot com all of these resources will be in the show notes with a description of this episode so if you would like to learn more about the firefly and about a lot of other cool stuff I encourage you to click on those links and now we're going to start to slow down just a little bit I would like for all of you to notice maybe where you are carrying some tension you might notice it's in the lakes were the hands or the head I think the most commonplace is the shoulders but everyone is different here in my case today it's in my hands as always and where we will be going we really don't need all of this tension and so I encourage you to right along side me try to relax those parts of your body because we are going into this immersive experience together into the forest where there are gently rolling streams where we can both hold the beautiful light show put on by the firefly what a gift it is dead even in this lush green forest we we are away from all the noise we have a chance to behold fireworks knocked the ones that explode and pop but the ones that glitter and sparkle in their modest and natural beauty and for this natural fireworks show we have the fire flight to thank the firefly is a type of beetle and the scientific name for this particular beetle is Lemper re day a name derived from the Latin term land Perris which roughly translates to mean the glow worm there are more than two thousand species of this glowing creature but despite their name only some species produce adults that the global not all two thousand have this ability to put on this kind of display in the western United States for example fireflies lack the ability to produce the light we're seeing now but all of them regardless if they glow or not are going to prefer anywhere with some water they love to hang out at streams rivers areas that are marshy or even small Poland's or indents in the soil that happened to be full of water they love all of this most but not all lightning bugs as they are also cold have wings and despite the scientific name that goes back to a Latin term that describes glow worms they are different from the glow worm which also happens to be a light producing insect but both the firefly and the glow worm are known as luminescent this is an adjective that is given to animals that have the ability to produce light naturally or organically the mechanism of this luminescence is called bio luminescence so that prefix bio has to do with life so with this luminescence arising from strictly life or natural chemical pro sissies we will save this for just a little bit later but of these two thousand firefly species most of them will live in humid regions of Asia and the Americas where they will mostly enjoy feasting on hall in and the nectar but the LAR vine which or the baby fireflies that haven't fully developed yet meaning that they don't have their wings or anything else they will opt to feed on worms snails and insects they can't exactly fly to different clients and so they will feast on whatever is close by so why exactly are we able to behold this spectacle why is it that they give out late in the first place as it turns out it doesn't seem to be just for fun or to exercise a form of showmanship but they mostly use this light to talk to one another this light is used as a form of communication between fire flies and as a way to search and find a mate and each firefly species of the two thousand that exist has is its own unique flashing pattern for one example when a male firefly wishes to communicate with a female he will fly near the ground while he flashes his light every six seconds once the mail is closer to the ground the female is going to have a bit of an easier time discerning whether or not he is from the same species that she is this is because most not all but most female fireflies cannot fly she will answer his flashes with her own life show and then the mail is able to find her now imbedded in this process is something that I think we would be quick to gloss over blood is profoundly interesting the male firefly in the female firefly will speak to one another by these flashes through that mechanism of bio luminescence as we have just covered but notice one thing the male firefly will flash his lights as he is nearing the ground every six seconds researchers can say six seconds because they can time than doing it and if they do it on a consistent basis they have an instinctual sense of timing they know when six seconds are over and that they need to again later themselves up this suggests to me that a firefly could probably keep time in music better than I could but in all seriousness the firefly having this sense of timing is something not to just gloss over but to chew on and reflect on and think about that is pretty amazing so while the male firefly is is using his lights to woo a female predators like toads and birds get a different message from the one the mail is conveying to the female firefly you would think that because the glow and are very visible and give away their position pretty frequently that that would mean they would be a feast for predators nearby but that is not the case they will rarely try to eat fireflies because they will release some sort of very bad tasting and toxic blood and if this flashing pattern that for one is meant for something different to the predators is a kind of warning lights saying stay away almost like maybe a flashing yield sign is for us and in today's fire work show we can see mostly yellow light flashing all around but firefly light can be yellow or green or orange so maybe the next time we see some fireflies we could get different colors so let us talk about this light more specifically the light that they are producing is known as cold light this means that these lights produced by the firefly or among some of the most efficient lights in the world one hundred percent of their energy is emitted as light maybe you have learned something about incandescent bulbs in comparison to other sorts like fluorescent for example the incandescent bold omits ten percent of its energy as light and the rest of that ninety percent is not released as light but rather as he is is why when you turn on say an incandescent light gold and leave it on for about ten minutes touching it is not a great idea they can be very very hot if we compare that with a fluorescent light bulb they are made about ninety percent of their energy as light so much more of that energy is being used as light but it still has ten percent being released as heat and so because one hundred percent of the energy is omitted as light in the firefly there is no heat being produced hence why scientists referred to firefly lights as cold lights so let's talk about exactly how that happens in the tale of the firefly you will find two chemicals that are organically made in their body luciferase and luciferin luciferin is a very heat resistant chemical that glows under certain conditions and luciferase which is an enzyme the way you know it is an enzyme is by that suffix A. S. E. please just how we have for example lacked Hades for lactose we have a luciferase for luciferin and this enzyme is going to trigger delight a mission A. T. P. the chemical that is within the fireflies body and in our body as well for those of you that are very science see it stands for adenosine triphosphate it is basically a building block to energy so the A. T. P. in the fireflies body is going to convert to energy and initiate the glow so not to just us not to just fire flies have ATP but all living things we might have heard that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell but eighty P. is sort of like the fuel and not only will the adult male fireflies glow there X. will glow as well albeit only in some species so in some of the species among the two thousand D. LAR vai and even the X. amid to light their eggs have been observed to flash in response to certain stimuli like gentle tapping or vibrations and when the firefly is out of the egg they will grow into adulthood but live only long enough to be able to mate and lay eggs so as they are an adult they may not even need to eat during that entire process they will only be adults for about three to four weeks before they die they will spend much more time in the larva stage then in the adult stage the adult stage being about less than a month while they will be lower vote for one to two years depending on the species and on the circumstances there are four main phases of the fire flies life beginning of course with the egg for about three weeks they will then hatch from their eggs to become larva for one to two years and before becoming an adult they will undergo a stage known as the pupa stage that is the stage that is not limited to the firefly but too many other insects but this pupa stage for the fire fly will be about three weeks before they become an adult so we can see here that while the larva stage is one to two years all of the other stages combined egg Cuba and the build will add up to only about two and a half months maximum so their lives are short but very busy and amazing and these fireflies will live out their lives on pretty much every continent except Antarctica some species of firefly larva lives are generally aquatic some of them even have gills while others will live almost entirely in the trees so some more aquatic and some seem to be arboreal there are even fire flies that survive in the winter one north American species is active in the wintertime and adults of these winter fireflies won't admit to light but instead hi in the bark of trees which is probably why that is a more on known fact there is even a firefly that can grow to be about the size of your home females of the lamprey jera firefly or huge in comparison to the other ones that we see on a more regular basis this fire fly can be seen in places like Thailand for example and these females will be much larger than the male counterparts but also lack wings so these gargantuan lamprey cherub fireflies will omit a good amount of light because of how big they are the females of one kind of firefly known as full tourists have earned the nickname feminist fairy tales we learned earlier that most fire flies when they are adults won't even eat but these ones do so they will mimic the flash patterns of other firefly species as we learned each one can have their own distinct pattern will mimic this Andrew Lewer unsuspecting males in closer to them which will then become her dinner they will also then take the toxins of the mail that prevents many of the toads and birds from eating them and deposited this chemical into their eggs as a sort of defense from predators some of these female fireflies will even sneak onto spider webs in order to steal the prey that is stuck on the web and he did for themselves as to how they are able to even identify the parade that is stuck in the web and also emerge from the web on stock themselves is unknown how they're able to do this remains unanswered but this specific interaction of the firefly stealing the food away from the spider is known as collectio parasitic which is a very long word I am convinced that many researchers as well as other groups of study save like historians they will make up words to ensure we will always need to them to define them it is a great way to cultivate job security because the make up of these huge terms and then we need to them to define what it even means but anyways let us move on to the name of the firefly what does as the name means or where does it come from so the term firefly as we use it was first coined the somewhere in the sixteen fifties and aboard the definition and insect which has the faculty of becoming luminous and it comes from both the term fire and that the term fly ancient Greek has Kiser lampposts which means firefly or a beetle with a tale that lights up at night which comes from the word consoles and titles which mean rear end and lamb pine which means to shine so we can see how rear end and to shine would be a very good description for a firefly because that is exactly what they do what an amazing creature now we are going to move on to the review portion of the show in which I read a review from one special listener out there and today D. D. G. one H. three is writing all the way from the United States of America and rights hi my name is Beckett I love this podcast there are many %HESITATION who's in there so I had to do back it justice by pronouncing all of them but Beckett continues I love this podcast it's my top favorite one I am ten years old and they listen to it every night and it helps me sleep and could you do an episode on the mole if you didn't do it or maybe the iguana so yeah great podcast I love it thank you Beckett for your very kind review I am so happy that you love this podcast and I am so glad that you are a very special part of it in terms of the animal suggestions I don't believe we have done either the mole four D. IG wanna so those are both very good suggestions and I will be sure to give you back it a special shout out on your future episode if you want to leave a review like Beckett to did because the show has helped you in any way that is one of the biggest ways that you can give back and help more people find the show to explore in the woods and in the mountains right alongside us again if you would love to learn about a certain animal that you find interesting and you would like your own podcast episode feel free to submit your animal suggestion through relax with animal facts on Instagram or by going to relax with animal facts dot com and going to the animal request tab or you can always email relax with animal facts at the G. mail dot com but I see that Beckett and many of you have left your animal suggestions in your review which is also a legitimate way of doing it if you choose to do so so I look forward to receiving all of your animal requests and learning about what animal you find interesting if you want more of the relax with animal facts podcast and would like to explore the islands of Mauritius one of the waters where the megalodon shark used to reside you can go to the patriot on page relax with animal facts all of the relevant links are in the show notes with the description so I look forward to seeing you there all of the teachers give you access to all of the content because I wanted to make sure as many of you could have access to this as possible thank you all for joining me in this lush green forests and walking by the stream to look at this wonderful firework show who would have known the firefly had so many cool secrets behind those whimsical lights I hope you have all enjoyed this episode and that you will join me on the next podcast episode with the next animal take care