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Photuris and Photinus
by Terry Barlow
06/19/13
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This duo has the sound of Ananias and Sapphira, of Acquila and Priscilla or of Samson and Delilah in the Bible, probably being closer to the former or the latter which is more menacing. You'll soon see why. Photuris and Photinus are 2 of some 1100 species of fireflies some of which we are seeing this time of year in North Carolina. Their flashing is caused in part by a substance called luciferin which is oxidized to create luminesence which has been called "cold light." Interesting that a name like "luciferin" would be associated with the phenomena of cold light. Lucifer, a name for the devil, was known for intelligence (light) without heat (love). But back to the fireflies, otherwise known as lightening bugs. The male of the Photinus species flies around fairly close to the ground feeding on nectar and pollen, and when it is mating it flashes about every 5 seconds. When a female is interested she will flash from the ground about 2 seconds after the male flash giving her "crucial cue." Trouble is the species Photuris which (unlike most firefly species) eats other fireflies can duplicate this cue, even dimming down the intensity of its flash to mimick photinus and attract the male for its dinner. So the combination of photuris and photinus is a deadly combination with a fatal attraction which sounds much better and looks much better than it turns out in fact to be, instructing us all to be discerning when it comes to light, truth and intelligence. Stick to the warm light!



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