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Lighting Up The World

By Christy Lowman

Burke CountyChristy Lowman


One of my children’s favorite things about summertime is at night when the lighting bugs come out! These mysterious bugs are actually winged beetles that belong to the family called Lampyridae. Lampyridae comes from the Greek word “lapein” and it means to shine, like a lamp.

Lightning bugs or fireflies are nocturnal and make the summer evenings magical when they come out and start flashing their beautiful lights.

Most lightning bugs flash whenever they feel like it. These are the ones we have at our house. However, there is one type called Photinus Carolinus, that synchronize their flashes simultaneously meaning that all of them flash their lights at the same time.  If you have never seen this type, but would like to, a great place to view them is at the Great Smokey National Park. They even offer tours to take you to see them.

These bugs are fascinating! Lighting up is how they talk to one another. Each species has its own light pattern. The males will signal their pattern that they are single and the females will flash a specific sequence if they are interested.

Scientists consider these bugs alchemists because they can take the chemical, luciferin, found in their tail, mix it with oxygen, calcium, and adenosine triphosphate to create their glowing light. This chemical reaction known as chemiluminescence, allows them to glow without wasting heat energy. One hundred percent of this energy creates a light, unlike our man-made incandescent light bulb. This light bulb creates more heat than light.

Different species create different colors. Glowing lightning bugs may be yellow, light red, green, or orange. Except for the ones that live in the western United States they do not light up the sky at all.

These glowing bugs are considered bioluminescent which is the word used for creatures that produce light. Only a few other earthbound insects have this gift, including click beetles and railroad worms.

Fireflies also use their light to attract prey and to warn off predators. Predators learn not to eat them because of their terrible taste. Fireflies have a defensive steroid in their blood called lucibufagins that makes them taste gross. So gross, that predators remember it and connect the glowing light with the bad taste.

Some lightning bug eggs and larvae even glow under the earth’s surface! These underground babies are carnivorous, feeding off of slugs, snails, and worms.

There is a firefly species that even lives in the water when they are babies! They have gills like fish and eat water snails. However, when grown, most lightning bugs eat pollen and nectar but there are a few that are cannibals.

Once these beetles crawl out of the ground they are adults and live about two months in the summer. There are 2,000 lightning bug species in the world and 150 of these reside in North America.

Do you like to watch and catch fireflies in the cool summer nights? It was one of my favorite things to do growing up. I loved to keep them in my critter cage and watch them on my dresser top before I went to sleep. They would light up all night and then in the morning, I would let them loose.

It is not amazing that God created a bug that can glow in the dark? Did you know that you have a light that you can shine for Jesus? It is really Him shining through you. You can let your light shine by letting God use you and by giving Him the glory for everything that happens to you. You can also give Him the glory by staying humble and giving Him the credit when you use your talents and gifts that He gave you. A few other examples would be acting Christ-like, standing up for Jesus, and simply doing what is right.  Showing your light in this dark world will be hard, but as Christians, we must do it to spread the good news of Jesus to unbelievers. You may be made fun of or bullied when you tell others that you are a Christian, but don’t be afraid! God is with you. Jesus went through the same thing when He came to earth and died for our sins. Will you stand up and shine your light in this dark world for Jesus? Will you light up the world?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14 ESV

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”

Ephesians 5:8 ESV

Dear Lord, please help us to choose to light up the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. We pray that in all that we do, others will see You and Your glory glowing in us. Help us remember that everything that happens to us, and our gifts and talents all belong to You. They are not our own. Help us stay strong in our Christian beliefs.  In Jesus’s name, Amen.