My First Firefly Pupa

HELLO FOLKS! After dinner this evening I went outside to play in the dirt. Well, it didn’t start out that way actually. For several days I have been looking at the bed on the south side of the house and scratching my head. IT NEEDS HELP! When I first came back here is 2013 I hauled a trailer full of “THE GOOD STUFF” and mixed it with the soil along the south side of the house. Well, tonight I decided start doing that again. A couple of days ago I was PLANNING on digging from the gutter downspout on the east side to the end of the basement steps. Now, I had dug in the corner and about half way done in 2013 so that part was still OK. The rest… HARD AS A BRICK!

SO, what happened tonight is one of those “one thing led to another” story. I took the wheelbarrow out to the pasture to where I fed hay a couple of years ago to get it full of “the good stuff”. My intention was to bring it back and just dump it out in the flower bed for later. When I made it back to the flower bed I discovered a small problem. I couldn’t just dump it out because there were Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ seedlings coming up in most of the bed. The other spot had Elephant Garlic… That brings me to ANOTHER STORY!

I would have taken photos of this part but I didn’t have my camera with me and it was getting dark. Elephant Garlic kind of has three stages, which also depends on a couple of things. BUT, I will go no further about them for now because this is a post about Fireflies not Elephant Garlic. BUT, I had to dig up the garlic in about a 4′ wide area to dump the “good stuff”.

Firefly pupa glowing.

While I was digging around in the dirt and removing the garlic I noticed something weird… Something was glowing. I picked it up and saw it was a lightening bug pupa. OK, I wasn’t really sure what it was called until I looked it up online. At first I thought maybe it was a larvae but I was mistaken.

I brought the pupa in the house so I could take a photo. Now, getting a good photo was the tricky part. The first one, as you can tell, was taken in my hand to give you an idea of how small it was but you can’t see the glow. SO, I placed it on something black then used a magnifying glass to make it bigger. Using just the zoom on my camera made it blurry…

Firefly larvae courtesy of GettyImages/Hans Lang.

The above photo is a Firefly larvae I found online. I have never seen one of these.

Life cycle of a Firefly. Image courtesy of

Firefly photo courtesy

I found a very good article written by Debbie Hadley on The article is titled “10 Fascinating Facts About Fireflies and Lightening Bugs.

Debbie wrote this article:

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 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 hindwings for movement. These traits place fireflies squarely in the order Coleoptera.


Have you ever touched a light bulb that’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 reaction that allows them to glow without wasting heat energy. All 100% of the energy goes into making light.


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.


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.


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 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.


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 Photuris fireflies eat, though – other fireflies!

Photuris females enjoy munching on males of other genera. How do they catch their lightning bug cousins? See fact #8.


The well-known femme fatales in the genus Photuris use a trick called aggressive mimicry to make meals of other fireflies. When a male firefly of another genus flashes its light signal, the female Photuris firefly 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!


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 fireflies could put our native species at risk for population decline.


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.

That’s the end of the article…

You just never know what you will find in the soil, especially on a farm. It is like a whole different world of life. Actually, soil is life in a way, or should I say that soil is alive.

I have several posts projects waiting and it seems like everyday comes another idea for a new one.

Well, I better go for now. I hope you enjoyed this post. Be happy, healthy and prosperous! Don’t forget to get dirty and take notice of what if living in your soil.

15 comments on “My First Firefly Pupa

  1. katechiconi says:

    I never knew how much there was to know about fireflies! Such a pity you don’t see them so much these days; I can remember a huge cloud of them hovering under the trees in the garden of my childhood home.


  2. Elizabeth says:

    This was a fascinating article. And it was so timely for me as I saw the first firefly flashes of the season yesterday evening! Thank you for sharing this information. I’ll never look at fireflies the same way!


  3. Jim R says:

    Wow…Lots of info on fireflies. Last week I noticed the blackbirds grazing more in the lawn. They were likely looking for something to eat of the firefly variety. Last evening I noticed some flashers.


  4. I wish we had fireflies in my part of CA.


    • You don’t have fireflies? WOW!


      • The only time I’ve seen fireflies was when I was in South Carolina.


        • Maybe you should go somewhere for a visit and bring some back with you (just don’t tell anyone I said that). According to there are thousands of species of Fireflies all over the world… The most common species in the U.S is Photinus pyralis. One species that is found in California and the southwest is Photuris versicolor. Strange, but not all Firefly species light up. SO, you could have them and not even know it. Just a thought. They say that their numbers are decreasing, and until this year, I did notice that issue. This year, however, there seem to be zillions! SO, what caused that? A milder winter? Well, it was a weird one. Thanks for your comment as always!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. hairytoegardener says:

    That was very interesting. I have a few fireflies in my backyard and I’d really like my yard to attract and keep them. I read somewhere that leaving outdoor lights on at night inhibits fireflies and isn’t good for them. I don’t keep my backyard outdoor light on, but my neighbor does, and it shines very brightly into my backyard. I plan to grow small trees along our fence line to block the light.


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