James Mahaffy mahaffy at
Mon Jul 3 10:47:15 EST 1995

Mark Tetreault (tetreaul at EPAS.UTORONTO.CA) wrote:
: Dear bionet -

: Could you please send us some info on fireflies? My young daughter
: loves them, and is very curious as to where they go in the daytime,
: are  "glow worms" firefly larvae, when and where can they be found,etc.
: We live in Toronto, Ontario and there are fireflies around in the
: summertime in rural areas.
: The reason I am doing this via the internet is to help show her ways
: of using the computer.
: Any information, or internet resources you could provide 
would be appreciated.

: Thank you,

: Leslie Knowles and daughter Lucille

Dear Lucille,

	My 4 year old son (then) had a similar question and I got a number
of nice and helpful replies.  I am posting one after my signature.  Your
Mom can probably get some of these books from the library.  I am posting
this back to the list, in case other boys and girls have a similar
question.  I did remove the e-mail address of Gerry so he doesn't get
too much mail.  

	Hope you have fun.  If you don't get much response tell your Mom to
try one of the entomolgy lists.  I have a friend at Ames, John Van Dyk,
that can help us if needed. 

James F. Mahaffy                   e-mail: mahaffy at
Biology Department                 phone: 712 722-6279
Dordt College                      FAX 712 722-1198
Sioux Center, Iowa 51250

This is the post:

Date: Tue, 28 Jun 1994 07:58:55 -0500
Message-Id: <199406281258.AA06532 at>
To: mahaffy at
From: Gerry Rising 
Subject: Re: What do fireflies eat?
Status: RO

Dear Daniel,

   I almost hate to give you answers, because much of
the fun in science is looking things up for yourself.
At any rate, here are the answers to your question
from two books, each of which I highly recommend.

>From Donald Stokes, Observing Insect Lives: "Both the
larvae and adults are carnivorous and eat other
insects, as well as snails and other small ground

>From May R. Berenbaum, Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and
Nibblers: "Most adult fireflies content themselves
with small insects as dietary fare, and some don't
feed at all. The immature larvae have elongated
sickle-shaped jaws, which they use to inject a fast-
acting paralytic toxin into slugs, snails, earth-
worms, and a variety of immature insects. The toxin
also serves to liquify the body contents so the young
fireflies can suck their prey dry. Immature fireflies,
by the way, are sometimes called glowworms, as are
the wingless females of some species, and, unlike the
adults, glowworms produce light not at intervals but
continuously. Even the eggs of some species are
luminous. The function of light production in eggs and
larvae is not well understood--perhaps research will
someday 'shed light' on the subject."

There is much much more about fireflies that is very interesting, some
of which you should learn before you keep your lightning bugs too long.
For example, you should try to learn about the females and you should
add them to your cage, if possible. Problem: there are many species and
you must match them. Much more information about these topics is to be
found in another wonderful book by Howard Ensign Evans, Life on a Little-
Known Planet.

I believ that your parents could read to you from any of these books and
you would gain much understanding and respect for these tiny bugs.

Gerry Rising         
295 Robinhill Drive   
Williamsville, NY 14221-1639  

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