Recently, my pal at Live Science.com, Dave Brody, produced this video news piece about the results of a fascinating experiment involving fireflies.
Scientists at the University of Connecticut have discovered that males in a common species of fireflies synchronize their flashing patterns to attract females. In dense fields or woods, the mass, synchronized flashing patterns make it easier for females to spot and recognize this mating call. Females then mimic the pattern back to the males to signal an interest in mating.
“There have been lots of really good observations and hypotheses about firefly synchrony,” Andrew Moiseff of the University of Connecticut, lead author of the study, told Life’s Little Mysteries. “But until now, no one has experimentally tested whether synchrony has a function.”
Over at the Boston Museum of Science, researchers are calling on you to help them solve the mystery of the Photinus pyralis (the j-shaped flasher) to understand why they seem to be increasingly attracted to urban street lights. Join their Firefly Watch and combine scientific research with an annual summer evening ritual!