How Long Do Fireflies Live (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1-2 years

The insect empire of the Earth is a wonder in itself, with millions of species and varieties of insects. Some of which are extremely beautiful, some are highly poisonous. But one insect among these has a unique phenomenon, to emit light from their body like a miniature bulb. These flying insects are called fireflies or lightning bugs. 

These flies belong to Phylum Arthropoda and class Insecta. These fireflies are present in varied climatic conditions, and the location of the organs that emit light also varies among sexes and species. Also, these insects come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, which makes them a lot more unique.

How Long Do Fireflies Live?

The minimum lifespan of Firefly2-3 weeks ( Adult firefly )
The maximum lifespan of FireflyApproximately 54 weeks
Species of fireflies on Earth 2000+

Fireflies have a short lifespan. They are small miniature insects that have a vast amount of species. But not all fireflies emit light, many species of fireflies do not emit light. From the mating stage to the adult stage and giving birth to the next generation, the process goes on but the lifespan remains short. 

The Larva lives the maximum among the other stages of life. The adults live for a period of only mating and laying eggs which account for nearly a few weeks. The adult fireflies have a light-emitting organ near their abdomen. Which it uses to find a female firefly or mating partner. They sustain life in tropical and temperate climatic conditions, with many species also living in Marshy areas.

Most fireflies require a moist region to survive and sustain life. During the spring season, the fireflies come out from their habitat. Usually, the Larval stage only survives, for the maximum period, while the basic lifespan stays a few weeks or a couple of months.

The life cycle of fireflies is called Complete Metamorphosis. It’s a 4-stage life cycle. Laying of eggs takes place after mating, and an incubation period of nearly three weeks is needed to produce the Larval form of the firefly. The eggs take approximately a timespan of 3-4 weeks to hatch. The luminescent property of the firefly also may appear during this period in some cases. Another interesting fact is that the luminance they emit by the adult firefly helps it to find a female for mating, and the same goes with the female firefly.

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Why Do Fireflies Live For So Long?

The fireflies cannot bear the cold temperatures. So, due to this reason, fireflies hide themselves during cold winters inside the bark of trees. The average life span remains for about two months. Different stages of fireflies have different lifespans. Also, the small size plays a vital role in sustaining the life cycle. The fireflies feed on both plants and small insects such as worms which makes them omnivores.

Very Few of them may live for more than a year, but the maximum life span most probably remains a year. The minimum life span is like two months, but mostly it was the average one. The adult firefly lives through very little time while a larva lives a lot more than an Adult.

Many of the fireflies don’t glow or emit light, or they were called the day-flyers. Some of the largest groups of fireflies on Earth are the American and the Eurasian ones. Most small insects have shorter life spans as they easily fall prey to big predators. Fireflies may have a chemical advantage over other insects still the lifespan remains low. 

Predators front consume most fireflies due to certain toxic chemicals that may prove deadly for the predators. And the firefly body contains certain unique kinds of chemicals which help them in Bioluminescence. Chemical reactions take place inside the body; Which emits a glowing light which we generally observed during the onset of spring and the entire summer season.

Conclusion

The fireflies are one of the most beautiful and eye-catchy creatures on Earth. The Bioluminescence phenomenon makes it unique from other insects of its class. 

The declining populations of fireflies are a matter of concern now, as these sensitive creatures need a proper habitat to sustain a secured life. In return, it affects the ecosystem as well as the food chain in specific ways. But still, these tiny glowing creatures were symbols of peace for people as they make the surroundings calm and silent. While, during childhood, many of us would have enjoyed chasing these lights, now they are rarely visible in the city lights.

Reference 

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=RReWAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=+How+Long+Do+Fireflies+Live&ots=g1GSzR3Az1&sig=vVrC_zCllbaN2_jDpbdATr3Ym3A
  2. http://www.stevenstrogatz.com/s/a-mystery-of-nature.pdf
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