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thumbnail A summertime light show
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A summertime light show © Jurgen Freund/Minden Pictures
It’s the season for spotting fireflies in some parts of the US, especially in the humid or damp areas that the winged beetles love. For fireflies themselves, it’s a season of love. They create these soft flashes of light as they search for a suitable mate. The glow is produced by a chemical reaction in a firefly’s abdomen. In addition to attracting a partner, the light is believed to deter potential predators by signaling that the insect’s chemical makeup may produce a foul taste or even be toxic. The fireflies in our homepage image were photographed with a long exposure in the Philippines, where fireflies are a popular tourist attraction. Some firefly species here and in other parts of Southeast Asia are known for their synchronized flashing, creating dramatic light shows in the dark.