This Saturday we will all gather to enjoy family, friends and celebrate our Nation’s independence. If you are going to a picnic, the Library has some great picnic cookbooks. If you find a good recipe that you would like to try you can join us for Cookbook Club’s outdoor meeting on Tuesday, July 14th where we will be sharing our best picnic food and recipes.
Fireflies may be our most beloved insects, but we know surprisingly little about them. Fortunately, what we do know about fireflies is fascinating. Here are 10 cool facts about fireflies.
- Fireflies, also called lightning bugs, are neither flies nor bugs.
Fireflies are actually beetles.Like all other beetles, they have hardened forewings called elytra, which meet in a straight line down the back when at rest. In flight, fireflies hold the elytra out for balance, and rely on their membranous hindwingsfor movement. These traits place fireflies squarely in the order Coleoptera.
- Fireflies are the world’s most efficient light producers.
Have you ever touched a light bulbthat’s been on for a while? If you did, you probably burned your finger! An average electric light bulb gives off 90% of its energy as heat, and only 10% as light. If fireflies produced that much heat when they lit up, they’d probably incinerate themselves. Fireflies produce light through an efficient chemical reactionthat allows them to glow without wasting heat energy. All 100% of the energy goes into making light.
- Fireflies “talk” to each other using light signals.
Fireflies don’t put on those spectacular summer displays just to entertain us. You’re actually eavesdropping on the firefly singles bar. Male fireflies cruising for mates flash a species-specific pattern to announce their availability to receptive females. An interested female will reply, helping the male locate her where she’s perched, often on low vegetation.
- Fireflies are bioluminescent throughout their life cycles.
We don’t often see fireflies before they reach adulthood, so you may not know that all stages of the firefly glow. Bioluminescence begins with the egg, and is present throughout the entire life cycle. In fact, all firefly eggs, larvae, and pupae known to science are capable of producing light. Scientists believe that larvae use the light to warn predators away, but we don’t know this for certain. Some firefly eggs will emit a faint glow when disturbed.
- Not all adult fireflies flash.
Fireflies are known for their blinking light signals, but not all fireflies flash. Some adult fireflies, most notably those that inhabit the western areas of North America, don’t use light signals to communicate. Many people falsely believe that fireflies don’t exist west of the Rockies, since flashing populations are rarely seen there.
- Firefly larvae feed on snails.
Firefly larvae are carnivorous predators, and their favorite food is escargot. Most firefly species inhabit moist, terrestrial environments, where they feed on snails or worms in the soil. But a few Asian species use gills to breathe underwater, where they feed on aquatic snails. Some species are arboreal, with larvae that hunt tree snails.
- Some fireflies are cannibals.
We don’t know much about what adult fireflies eat. Most don’t seem to feed at all, while some are believed to eat mites or pollen. We do know what Photurisfireflies eat, though – other fireflies! Photurisfemales enjoy munching on males of other genera. How do they catch their lightning bug cousins? See fact #8.
- Female fireflies sometimes mimic the flashes of other species.
The well-known femme fatales in the genus Photurisuse a trick called aggressive mimicryto make meals of other fireflies. When a male firefly of another genus flashes its light signal, the female Photurisfirefly replies with the male’s flash pattern, suggesting she is a receptive mate of his own species. She continues luring him in, closer and closer, until he’s within her reach. Then she eats him!
- Firefly luciferase is used in all kinds of medical research.
Scientists have developed remarkable uses for firefly luciferase in the research lab. Luciferase can be used as markers to detect blood clots, to tag tuberculosis virus cells, and to monitor hydrogen peroxide levels in living organisms (hydrogen peroxide is believed to play a role in the progression of some diseases, like cancer and diabetes). Fortunately, scientists can now use a synthetic form of luciferase for these research purposes, as the commercial harvest of firefliescould put our native species at risk for population decline.
10. Some fireflies synchronize their flash signals.
Synchronous fireflies are one of the seven wonders of the insect world, in my opinion. Imagine thousands of fireflies lighting up at precisely the same time, over and over, from dusk to dark. This simultaneous bioluminescence, as its called by scientists, occurs in just two places in the world: southeast Asia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, right here in the U.S.A. North America’s lone synchronous species, Photinus carolinus, puts on its light show in late spring each year.
Monarch butterflies (VIP polinators) have a home being prepared for them at the Green Branch Library. The first steps are being taken to provide a habitat that will both draw the butterfly to the library’s reading garden and then provide adequate food and shelter to keep them returning here year after year. Our plan is to become a Certified Monarch Waystation by 2016.
Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico.
In the library’s reading garden, we have planted 16 milkweed plants of two varieties. If we are successful with our certification project, there will be monarch pictures in future blogs. Stay tuned!
To read more about the remarkable journey the Monarch makes every year, come to the Green Branch Library. Here is a sampling of what you might find.
June 18, 2015 is the 203rd Anniversary of the declaration of war for the War of 1812. This war was a not noticed by many in Great Britain because they were already fighting another war in Europe, against Napoleon. However, for individuals living in the very new United States of America and those living in what is now Canada–this war would change so many things and give birth to our national anthem.
Medicine and Surgery During the War of 1812
Monday, July 6, 6:30 pm
Presented by Sharon Myers, President of the William Wetmore Chapter of the Daughters of 1812. The typical soldier did not die of bullets during the War of 1812, but rather from germs. Infectious disease was the #1 killer. Learn how surgeon’s mate, Usher Parsons, single-handedly dealt with all the injuries of the men from the Battle of Lake Erie. His case mortality was a little more than 3% – the mortality rate during the Korean War was 2.5%. This PowerPoint presentation also includes information on physicians from Summit County during the War of 1812.
For more information, please see the following:
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The Green Branch Library is offering a hearing program, on Tuesday, June 23 at 6:30 pm. This is through Kathy Liston, a Beltone Audiologist. She will discuss how devastating hearing loss is to the communication process, ways to cope, how to achieve communication competency and possible solutions. The presentation will last 20-30 minutes. Hearing screenings will be available for those interested.
Father’s Day is Sunday , June 21st
Father’s Day in the United States is always celebrated on the Third Sunday of June.
Washington State celebrated the nation’s first Father’s Day on July 19 , 1910.
In 1972 President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a national holiday.
There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States, so celebrate your father and father figures.
June 8, 1949 was a great day for Eric Arthur Blair. His book, 1984, was published. Of course, his pen name was George Orwell . He was a talented, passionate novelist, political writer and journalist. If you are interested in reading one of his books or a biography about him, come and visit our library!
5 years ago, the game of basketball lost its greatest coach, John Wooden. The “Wizard of Westwood” led UCLA to 10 National championships.
To learn more about John Wooden and his coaching philosophy read the following:
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Don’t forget to count your steps and activity for our Mind, Body and Sole summer reading program.