Despite their miniature size and their preference for dark places, fireflies receive a lot of attention when summer arrives. Their remarkable green and yellow flashing lights have a hypnotic effect on people. Children in particular are drawn to fireflies. But the same throbbing glow that attracts youngsters can lead male fireflies to their deaths.
In warm-weather months, especially where open meadows and forests coexist, the adult male fireflies of most species set out on mating flights in the evening hours. The females, meanwhile, await their mates in the foliage, blinking seductively. The task for each male is to find an unmated female of its own species. It's critical that the female be unmated because in many firefly species the females change through internal chemistry into man-eaters once they successfully mate. Thereafter they use their blinks to attract meals. Some females even imitate the idiosyncratic blinking patterns of other species in an effort to attract as many unsuspecting males as possible.
Click here to learn more about one common species of firefly.