One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A soft-bodied beetle related to the glow-worm, the winged male and flightless female of which both have luminescent organs. The light is chiefly produced in flashes and typically functions as a signal between the sexes.
Family Lampyridae: many species, especially in the tropics, and including the European Luciola lusitanica
- ‘We were guided as we went by millions of fireflies whose flashing marked the banks like landing lights on an airstrip.’
- ‘The light from the firefly is an example of phosphorescence.’
- ‘Triggered by dusk's fading daylight, male fireflies lift off into the air and begin their courtship.’
- ‘Later lab experiments showed that by flashing an artificial light at a firefly you could speed up its rhythm, you could slow it down, make it flash a little later than it would otherwise.’
- ‘The firefly's light is only visible for an instant.’
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