There are plenty of insects roaming the earth and among them are the small, lightning-loving creatures known as Thunderflies. Many people regard these little bugs as a lesser cousin to the lightning bug. Though it may be true that they don’t have quite the same illustrious past or cultural significance, thunderflies are just as fascinating in their own right. These small flying insects are also known by many other names such as lightning beetles, glow worms, lantern fly larvae, firefly larvae, and even glow flies. Although these tiny creatures have a striking resemblance to their more popular ‘cousins’, there are some significant differences that separate them from being direct relatives. Let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about thunderflies that will blow your mind…
They’re Actually Fly Larvae
Like other common insects known to have magical abilities, thunderflies are the larvae form of a species of fly known as a green bottle fly. While they are not technically considered to be a ‘true’ type of fly, they do have some similar features to other species of fly larvae like the housefly. Thunderflies are primarily found in tropical and subtropical areas. Unlike many other types of larvae, these tiny creatures have a much longer lifespan and can live for up to one year before they’ve reached the proper maturity to emerge from their cocoons.
They Glow Through Bioluminescence
Another reason why thunderflies are often referred to as ‘fireflies’ is because they produce their own light. Much like how fireflies create light in order to attract a mate, thunderflies use their bioluminescence to attract predators. It is a defensive mechanism that is intended to lure other creatures to eat them so that they don’t become food for other insects. Although thunderflies have a very short lifespan, their light still lasts for around two days once it has been ignited. In comparison, a firefly’s light can last anywhere between one to two weeks. This bioluminescent ability is created by a chemical reaction in the thunderfly’s abdomen. When the chemical reaction takes place, it emits a light that is visible in the ultraviolet spectrum.
They Can Appear in Any Color of the Rainbow
Although thunderflies typically appear in a combination of yellow and green, they can actually appear in any color of the rainbow. This is due to the fact that they are able to control the amount of light that they are emitting. This allows them to be more discrete when they are in areas where it is not safe to be seen. The brightness of the light also varies depending on how much energy the thunderfly has to create the light. The color of the light also changes depending on the temperature of the surrounding environment. Warmer temperatures produce a bluish light, while cooler temperatures produce a more orange light.
Their Light is Intended to Warning Predators
While the light that thunderflies emit can be used to attract a mate, it is primarily intended to warn predators of their stings. Thunderflies have a very sharp stinger located at the end of their abdomen that is used to defend themselves against predators. Their light is a warning that it is not safe to eat them as they will cause pain and irritation. Like many other insects, thunderflies are able to produce light using a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction occurs when oxygen, hydrogen, and a small amount of nitrogen react with a luciferin catalyst. Like fireflies, thunderflies use a chemical known as luciferin.
Their Glow is Caused by a Chemical Reaction
The chemical reaction that produces light in thunderflies is the same reaction that is responsible for the burning of charcoal. As the chemicals in a thunderfly’s body come into contact with the air around them, they create energy that is released as light. The amount of energy that is released is dependent on the amount of oxygen that is available. A reduction in oxygen will cause the light to be reduced as well. This oxidation process causes a chemical reaction that emits energy that is visible to the human eye. It is this reaction that is responsible for the majority of the light that thunderflies produce. The chemical reaction that occurs inside a thunderfly is very similar to the chemical reaction that occurs in fluorescent light.
They Have Excellent Vision and Hearing Abilities
Thunderflies are an amazing species of insect that are extremely adaptable to their surroundings. These creatures are able to adapt to their environment in order to protect themselves from predators. They are able to sense vibrations and sounds from very far away thanks to the fact that they have excellent hearing abilities. They are able to detect the most subtle of sounds, which is why you’re unlikely to see them very often. They’re Very Protective of Their Environment The fact that thunderflies are such an environmentally friendly species is quite evident from the ways that they protect their habitat from unwanted guests. Like fireflies, thunderflies release a substance known as ‘pheromone’ that helps to repel other insects in their area. This pheromone is a chemical that helps to repel predators and insects that may be looking to eat thunderflies. When thunderflies are in their cocoons, they are able to sense the amount of humidity and temperature in the air around them. This is why they are able to emerge when there is a higher chance of rain. They actually emerge when the weather is the most humid so that their wings can be fully hydrated.
Like many other species of insect, thunderflies are an important part of the ecosystem. These tiny creatures can be found in tropical and sub-tropical areas around the world. There are many interesting facts about these lightning-loving insects that can be found above. These small flying insects are also known by many other names such as lightning beetles, glow worms, lantern fly larvae, firefly larvae, and even glow flies. Although these tiny creatures have a striking resemblance to their more popular ‘cousins’, there are some significant differences that separate them from being direct relatives.