How do fireflies glow? The baffling bug mystery finally revealed


It took scientists 60 years of research to truly figure out how these bioluminescent creatures work. Until recently these cute little summertime beetles have been a strange and wonderful mystery.

They finally found the secret ingredient to how fireflies glow. And the results are pretty JAR-ing (just kidding, I mostly just wanted to use that pun).


If you were to make a firefly chemical reaction yourself, the recipe would look something like this: oxygen, calcium, magnesium, naturally occurring chemical called luciferin combined into a little box.

an extra oxygen electron.

Journal of the American Chemical Society

Combined in this little beetle box it creates photons, or light, in the form of the yellow, green, orange, and even blue flickers.

So we can all agree that fireflies are still magical right?

These might be understood chemically, but these light-hearted night-sky-dancing little bugs are forever a natural wonder.

“Smile until you feel better. I call it Kimmying."
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