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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: So ... Sometimes Fireflies Eat Other Fireflies | Deep Look

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If you think theres something romantic about fireflies glowing on a warm summer night...

Youd be right.

But what you dont see, is the dark side of this luminous display.

Firefly flashes are a secret code, a language of light.

The light comes from a masterful bit of chemistry.

A bioluminescent reaction that generates light but no heat.

So what are they saying?

Well, males on the wing are advertising themselves to females with a bit of sexy skywriting.

Take the common Eastern firefly.

His signature move?

A fishhook-shaped maneuver.

Which is why his species is sometimes called theBig Dipper.”

Her reply is more subtle: a single, slow pulse from her heart-shaped lantern.

OurBig Dippercomes bearing anuptial gift,” a present of more than 200 assorted

nutrients... kind of like a box of chocolates.

Heres the handoff.

Some are lucibufagins -- defensive chemicals fireflies secrete to ward off predators

like spiders and birds.

These defensive chemicals may help protect her.

Firefly codes are so reliable that anyone can speak the language.

But were not the only codebreakers listening in.

Meet Photuris.

Shes also a firefly -- a larger, stronger one than the Big Dippers.

But she has a weakness.

Her species cant make its own lucibufagins.

They have fewer defenses against predators.

So she sets a trap to get some.

She mimics the glow of other firefly females -- luring in the males of that species.

When Mr. Big Dipper shows up with his chemical gift, she moves in...

sucks up those defensive chemicals that she desperately needs...

then makes a meal of the rest of him.

Most fireflies dont even eat during the few weeks they spend as adults.

But hes not totally defenseless.

If shes not quick enough, he can secrete a gooey compound that sticks in her jaw and

lets him escape.

Another gift from the master chemist.

Hey there, its Lauren.

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