How a Firefly Glows

How a Firefly Glows

The glow from a firefly comes from the lower part of their abdomen. This “lantern” portion has an evolutionary gift in the form of bioluminescence. The light produced by a small layer of cells called photocytes is reflected off several layers of reflective cells and emits a greenish-yellow glow.

Specifically, inside the light producing cells within the firefly is an organelle called a peroxizome. The chemical party that lies within it is what creates the light. Magnesium and ATP combine with an enzyme known as luciferase and the protein luciferin. This combination creates a very excited molecule. When oxygen is introduced into the mix, the molecule goes from “excited” back to a steady state. Think of having to pee extremely badly. You begin to tap dance like Micheal Flatley on crack! Once relieved, you return to a “steady state”. In the case of a photocytes chemical reaction, this energy release is in the form of a photon of light.

The mechanism that turns on and off this light show is still the topic of some debate. The prevailing theory revolves around the firefly’s ability to control oxygen within photocytes. Mitochondria (the organelle that controls ATP production) require large amounts of oxygen. When the firefly decides to light up the sky, it signals “trigger cells” around their air tubes to produce large amounts of nitric oxide. When the mitochondria inside the photocytes become soaked with nitric oxide, it results in extra oxygen available within the cell. It is thought this extra oxygen availability kicks off the chain reaction that produces light.
The process involved in stopping the luminous chemical reaction within photocytes has also yet to be proven. Researchers have found that white light can reverse the effects of nitric oxide on a key respiratory enzyme found in mitochondria. Because of this, it is thought that the “off” button on a firefly could be light itself.
The reason for this evolutionarily driven light show is mating. Fireflies, like most animals that procreate sexually, need to find a way to attract potential suitors. In the case of the firefly, this attraction is accomplished with flashes of visible light.  When a hot-to-trot male is ready to put on his Barry White and begin patrolling a specific area for females, he will start his flash-dance in the hopes of being seen by a willing lady. The females usually sit in wait, and once an attractive male happens by that gets her fire going, so to speak, she will signal back. The male also prepares a “nuptial gift” in the form of sperm wrapped in a high protein package, which he then gives to her and the mating ritual of this bright beetle is soon accomplished.
Bonus Factoids:
  • Not all fireflies use their light to attract potential sexual partners. A type of firefly known as “Photuris” will mimic the light patterns of another type, “Photinus”, to attract the males of that genus class. Once the love-struck male approaches, instead of a booty-call, the Photuris female will seize him and then eat him!
  • Some firefly species will use blood as a means to ward off predators. The process is called “reflex bleeding”. This blood is toxic to some predators and numerous studies have shown that these predators learn very quickly to stay away from fireflies. These same studies show that these predators will also stay away from perfectly palatable insects if those insects are painted with glowing substances that mimic firefly larva. The femme fatale Photuris firefly is not able to make the toxic chemical. They are however able to gain this poison by eating firefly’s with it. Once ingested, she is able to pass it on to her eggs and larvae.
  • The light from a firefly is usually in the range of 561-570nm on the light spectrum. This is high green-low yellow for those not in the know.
  • Fireflies are not “flies”, they are beetles. True “flies” have only one pair of wings, beetles and other insects commonly referred to as flies, like dragonfly or scorpionfly, have 2 sets of wings or four wings altogether. For ease of understanding, when the term “fly” is hyphenated following the common name for the insect, or fly follows the common name, it is, most likely, a true “fly” and has only 2 wings.
  • Most species of firefly are able to use luminescence as adults, but all known firefly larvae and eggs are able to achieve this feat. There are also related beetles that have bioluminescent abilities. Click beetles and Phenogodid beetles are two.
  • In the United States, fireflies that glow are not usually seen west of Kansas. The reason for this phenomenon isn’t known, but studies have shown only rare, isolated sightings of luminous fireflies in the western states.
  • If you live east of Kansas and want to attract fireflies to your house there are some tips to follow. Cut down on lawn chemicals; Allow low overhanging trees, tall grass and other vegetation. This will provide adult fireflies with a place to rest and remain cool during the day. Reduce any artificial lighting around your property, which could interfere with the firefly’s signal and make it harder for most species to locate a mate.
  • There are currently over 2000 known species of firefly around the world.

Incredible chalk drawings

Don't jump! Oh, he can't... Incredible chalk drawings that appear to change London's skyline

Daily Mail 

At first glance he appears to be inches from disaster.
But this man apparently wobbling, arms outstretched, on the verge of a 300ft drop is actually  perfectly safe.
He is an artist who has drawn this three-dimensional street scene on the flat roof of a building.
Inches from death... or really? Pavement artist stands on the edge of his drawing of a New York scene - in LondonInches from death... or really? Pavement artist stands on the edge of his drawing of a New York scene - in London
The astonishing optical illusion means he appears to be about to fall from a London rooftop, surrounded by a panorama which includes the City.
But sharp-eyed observers will spot that the street scene below him includes a New York yellow taxi and a U.S. police SWAT team.
    Pavement artist Joe Hill was commissioned to draw the scene to celebrate the release of Hollywood film Man On A Ledge.
    In the film, a New York police psychologist has to attempt to talk down a former policeman who has threatened to jump to his death from a Manhattan hotel rooftop.
    Don't jump! Man on a Ledge was created to celebrate the UK release of the film by the same nameDon't jump! Man on a Ledge was created to celebrate the UK release of the film by the same name
    Stepping off the edge: Pavement artist Joe Hill created the image. In the Man on a Ledge film a New York police psychologist has to attempt to talk down a former policeman who has threatened to leap to his deathStepping off the edge: Pavement artist Joe Hill created the image. In the Man on a Ledge film a New York police psychologist has to attempt to talk down a former policeman who has threatened to leap to his death
    Going over the edge: In this astonishing optical illusion, Joe Hill appears to be jumping off a building in this New York scene - set in LondonGoing over the edge: In this astonishing optical illusion, Joe Hill appears to be jumping off a building in this New York scene - set in London
    Man on a Ledge: Sam Worthington stars in the Hollywood film which is coming out in the UKMan on a Ledge: Sam Worthington stars in the Hollywood film which is coming out in the UK

    10 Unpleasant Creatures Made Lovable By Cartoons

    10 Unpleasant Creatures Made Lovable By Cartoons 

    Is there anything more gross than a cockroach? Is there anything more reviled than a rat? There are lots of creatures out there that we’d want to stay as far away from as possible. But the truth is that some of these animals aren’t quite as terrible as we make them out to be and have overly bad reputations that are perhaps undeserved. Here are some animated movies and shows that make us throw the “ice” factor out the window and enjoy creatures that normally freak us out for what they actually are: cuter than puppies.
    Ratatouille Brothers
    The geniuses at Pixar accomplished a lot with Ratatouille, but what is perhaps most impressive is the fact that they made us forget that most people would normally do their best to get rats into traps (even though that is alluded to in the movie). Not only is Remy the rat made cute and lovable, but he also cooks food for humans without making the audience cringe. The demand for pet rats rose after the release of Ratatouille as kids around the world asked, “Mommy, can I get a rat?”
    Casper, the Friendly Ghost
    There’s nothing scary about this innocent and friendly ghost kid. And just in case you’re wondering how he died, don’t. His parents were already ghosts when they got married and gave birth to him, so he never actually died. At least, that’s what we’re told in some versions of the story.
    Charlotte’s Web
    While in reality, spiders might send most of us running to grab something to smack them with, we forget all about our prejudices and fall in love with the pretty spider as she helps Wilbur with her wisdom.
    Looney Tunes
    Pepe Le Pew
    He might stink, but Pepé le Pew is a true romantic at heart. And although some of his actions might be creepy, as long as you’re not the cat he’s after, you can’t help but find him charming in a convoluted sort of way.
    Dead Dogs
    Corpse Bride
    Scraps Corpsebride4
    None of us wants to have to see a dog that’s hurt, let alone dead. But in Corpse Bride, we don’t feel the need to shed a tear for Scraps, the skeleton dog, because we realize that dogs are still as cute as ever in the afterlife.

    A Bug’s Life
    Tumblr L7Bykudoq01Qag1Ubo1 400
    Some people love them. Some people hate them. Caterpillars can be polarizing that way. Not in the movie A Bug’s Life, though, as Heimlich the caterpillar humorously eats his way to our hearts before becoming, in his words, “a beautiful butterfly.”
    A Bug’s Life
    A Bugs Life Shocked%20Ant
    With another entry from A Bug’s Life, Pixar makes us think twice about reaching for the bug spray at the sight of ants by giving them brighter colors and cuter proportions, making us root for the ants to win the day. Especially Dot. She’s just so darn cute!
    Okay, ogres might not be real, but when they appear in fiction, they usually aren’t exactly what you’d call “attractive.” And while you’d hesitate to call Shrek “cute” at first, he does grow on you. In this case, perhaps his attractiveness comes from the inside.
    Pixar did it again. In a movie about a robot, Wall-E’s cockroach companion steals the show for a moment when it pokes its head out of a Twinkie, looking cuter than any teddy bear.
    Kung Fu Panda
    How many of us would stick around with a snake nearby? The deadliness of the Viper in Kung Fu Panda isn’t threatening to the kids who watch it, who instead of running away, cheer on as it fights alongside Po and the rest of the animal Kung Fu masters.

    Top 30 Beautiful Women For The Year 2012

    Top 30 Beautiful Women For The Year 2012

    Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. That’s the line that leads to an end of all your judgment, gives nothing but the freedom of a choice. That’s what we want. Freedom of a choice. When it comes to women, well that’s the sweet sorrow of a dilemma. There are a lot of beautiful women out there and according to here is the list of the top 30 beautiful women for the year 2012

    30. Kat Dennings

    29. Hayley Atwell

    28. Dianna Agron

    27. Kristen Stewart

    26. Minka Kelly

    25. Emmanuelle Churqui

    24. Jessica Alba

    23. Olivia Wilde

    22. Kate Beckinsale

    21. Natalie Portman

    20. Rosie Huntigton- Whiteley

    19. Lea Michelle

    18. Lady Gaga

    17. Emma Watson

    16. Katy Perry

    Top 5 Weirdest Phobias

    Top 5 Weirdest Phobias

    Fear is one of the most fascinating and influential parts of human nature- it is the most powerful internal motivator and an age-old force that we are constantly trying to come to terms with.
    It comes in all sorts of different varieties and flavors, sometimes people develop very intense and irrational fears of specific situations called phobias, which is derived from the Greek word ‘Phobos’ which means fear. While some are more generic and common like claustrophobia (the fear of small enclosed spaces), others are a bit weirder. Almost all phobias are developed because of a traumatic event in the person’s life, commonly in childhood. These events are often repressed in their memory which makes their seemingly irrational fear that much harder to deal with.
    Before we take a look at some of the strange phobias that people develop, let’s take a moment to dismiss a few common contenders that you may be familiar with. A lot of fake phobias have been invented just for the sake of amusement that aren’t actual diagnosable chronic fears. Here are a few fake phobias that don’t qualify:
    Luposlipaphobia – The fear of being chased by wolves while wearing socks on a recently waxed floor.
    Venustraphobia – The fear of beautiful women.
    Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia – The fear of long words.
    Now that those satirical phonies are out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the weirdest phobias around.

    Doraphobia – Fear of animal fur


    People with this phobia have a tough time around furry animals like dogs and cats- they find their fur to be either disgusting or repulsive. It’s hard to say what about fur is specifically bothersome to them, perhaps it’s tendency to shed and get all over surfaces, or maybe they have a genuine allergic reaction to fur that conditioned them into an irrational fear.

    Pediophobia – Fear of dolls


    This is actually a pretty understandable phobia that most people can relate to in one way or another. Pediophobia is the fear of dolls or any false representation of a sentient being, like mannequins and robots with human features. Something about lifeless plastic mimicking the human form, specifically the facial features, is unnerving and in some cases downright eerie. It’s an example of the uncanny valley, a place where the realism of an artificial entity is just too close to the real thing.

    Barophobia – Fear of gravity

    boraphobiaIt seems odd to be afraid of the force that holds the world together, but that same force can be catastrophic and deadly in the wrong circumstances. Someone who had a near death experience by falling or witnessed some sort of structural collapse might see gravity as an unexplainable and malevolent force with the power to tear the world apart if it shifts.

    Verbophobia – Fear of words

    verbophobiaVerbal language is the basic building block of society and community, so an irrational fear of words is especially debilitating when the words in question are common. A person with verbophobia may have a fear of either spoken or written words, long and small and of any language. It depends on the individual case and the catalyst of the phobia- it could even be specific words or phrases.

    Spectrophobia – Fear of mirrors and reflection

    The intense fear of mirrors and reflections is a fascinating and multifaceted one- sufferers have a wide range of different reasons for their phobia. Some people think of mirrors as portals to another dimension, sort of like in Through the Looking Glass but more sinister. Others have more complex and internal reasons for their fear of mirrors, perhaps because of problems with their self-image and their own bodies.



    10.Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Pacific Ocean
    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N. Most current estimates state that it is larger than the U.S. state of Texas, with some estimates claiming that it is larger than the continental United States, however the exact size is not known for sure. The Patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. The patch is not easily visible because it consists of very small pieces, almost invisible to the naked eye, most of its contents are suspended beneath the surface of the ocean. This is not a place the average Joe would want to visit.
    9. Izu Islands – Japan
    The Izu Islands are a group of volcanic islands stretching south and east from the Izu Peninsula of Honshū, Japan. Administratively, they form two towns and six villages; all part of Tokyo. The largest is Izu Ōshima, usually called simply Ōshima. Because of their volcanic nature, the islands are constantly filled with the stench of sulfur (extremely similar to the smell of thousands of farts). Residents were evacuated from the islands in 1953 and 2000 due to volcanic activity and dangerously high levels of gas. The people returned in 2005 but are now required to carry gas masks with them at all times in case gas levels rise unexpectedly.
    8.The Door to Hell – Turkmenistan
    This has featured on listverse before, but it would be remiss of us to exclude it from this list. While drilling in Derweze in Turkmenistan in 1971, geologists accidentally found an underground cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 50-100 meters. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, scientists decided to set fire to the hole. Geologists had hoped the fire would go out in a few days but it has been burning ever since. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell. As you can see from the picture above, it is one hell of an amazing place, but certainly one you wouldn’t want to visit.
    7.Alnwick Poison Gardens- England
    Inspired by the Botanical Gardens in Padua, Italy (the first botanical garden which was created to grow medicinal and poisonous plants in the 1500s), the Alnwick Poison Garden is a garden devoted entirely to plants that can kill. It features many plants grown unwittingly in back gardens, and those that grow in the British countryside, as well as many more unusual varieties. Flame-shaped beds contain belladonna, tobacco and mandrake. The Alnwick Garden has a Home Office license to grow some very special plants; namely, cannabis and coca which are found behind bars in giant cages – for obvious reasons.
    6.Asbestos Mine – Canada
    Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals highly prized for their resistance to fire and sound absorption abilities. On the downside, exposure to this stuff causes cancer and a variety of other diseases. It is so dangerous that the European Union has banned all mining and use of asbestos in Europe. But, for those curious enough to want to get close to the stuff, all is not lost. In Canada at the Thetford Mines, you can visit an enormous open pit asbestos mine which is still fully operational. The workers in the mines aren’t required to wear any sort of respiratory protection, and in some sections of the nearby town, residential areas are butted right next up against piles of asbestos waste. The mine offers bus tours of the deadly environment during the summer months. Tickets are free (would you expect it to be any other way?). If you decide to visit, don’t forget your full body bio-hazard suit.
    5.Ramree Island – Burma
    Ramree Island in Burma is a huge swamp home to 1000s of salt water enormous salt water crocodiles, the deadliest in the world. It is also home to malaria carrying mosquitos, and venomous scorpions. During the Second World War, the island was the site of a six week battle in the Burma campaign. Here is a description of one of those horrifying nights: “That night [of the 19 February 1945] was the most horrible that any member of the M.L. [motor launch] crews ever experienced. The scattered rifle shots in the pitch black swamp punctured by the screams of wounded men crushed in the jaws of huge reptiles, and the blurred worrying sound of spinning crocodiles made a cacophony of hell that has rarely been duplicated on earth. At dawn the vultures arrived to clean up what the crocodiles had left…Of about 1,000 Japanese soldiers that entered the swamps of Ramree, only about 20 were found alive.”
    4.Yungas Road – Bolivia
    The North Yungas Road (Road of Death or Death Road) is a 61 kilometres (38 mi) or 69 kilometres (43 mi) road leading from La Paz to Coroico, 56 kilometres (35 mi) northeast of La Paz in the Yungas region of Bolivia. It is legendary for its extreme danger with estimates stating that 200 to 300 travelers are killed yearly along it. The road includes crosses marking many of the spots where vehicles have fallen. The road was built in the 1930s during the Chaco War by Paraguayan prisoners. It is one of the few routes that connects the Amazon rainforest region of northern Bolivia, or Yungas, to its capital city. Because of the extreme dropoffs of at least 600 metres (2,000 ft), single-lane width – most of the road no wider than 3.2 metres (10 ft) and lack of guard rails, the road is extremely dangerous. Further still, rain, fog and dust can make visibility precarious. In many places the road surface is muddy, and can loosen rocks from the road.
    3.Mud Volcanoes of Azerbaijan – Azerbaijan
    In the Spring of 2001, volcanic activity under the Caspian Sea off the Azeri coast created a whole new island. In October 2001 there was an impressive volcanic eruption in Azerbaijan at Lokbatan, but there were no casualties or evacuation warnings. But Azerbaijan does not have a single active volcano, at least not in the usual sense of the word. What Azerbaijan does have is mud volcanoes – hundreds of them. Mud volcanoes are the little-known relatives of the more common magmatic variety. They do erupt occasionally with spectacular results, but are generally not considered to be dangerous – unless you happen to be there at the wrong time: every twenty years or so, a mud volcano explodes with great force, shooting flames hundreds of meters into the sky, and depositing tonnes of mud on the surrounding area. In one eruption, the flames could easily be seen from 15 kilometers away on the day of the explosion, and were still burning, although at a lower level, three days later.
    2. The Zone of Alienation – Eastern Europe
    The Zone of Alienation is the 30 km/19 mi exclusion zone around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster and is administrated by a special administration under the Ukrainian Ministry of Extraordinary Situations (Emergencies). Thousands of residents refused to be evacuated from the zone or illegally returned there later. Over the decades this primarily elderly population has dwindled, falling below 400 in 2009. Approximately half of these resettlers live in the town of Chernobyl; others are spread in villages across the zone. After recurrent attempts at expulsion, the authorities became reconciled to their presence and even allowed limited supporting services for them. Because of looting, there is a strong police presence – so be warned, if you visit, you may either be shot or get radiation poisoning – and we all know how awful that can be.
    1.Ilha de Queimada Grande – Brazil
    Off the shore of Brazil, almost due south of the heart of São Paulo, is a Ilha de Queimada Grande (Snake Island). The island is untouched by human developers, and for very good reason. Researchers estimate that on the island live between one and five snakes per square meter. That figure might not be so terrible if the snakes were, say, 2 inches long and nonvenomous. The snakes on Queimada Grande, however, are a unique species of pit viper, the golden lancehead. The lancehead genus of snakes is responsible for 90% of Brazilian snakebite-related fatalities. The golden lanceheads that occupy Snake Island grow to well over half a meter long, and they possess a powerful fast-acting poison that melts the flesh around their bites. This place is so dangerous that a permit is required to visit.


    ------------------------------ Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...