Lightning Bugs = Fireflies

photograph Julie Johnson

According to Dr. Katie Kilmer, assistant professor of biology and health at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, lightning bugs/fireflies are specialized predators and feed on other insect larvae, snails and slugs. “They are important to help maintain a balanced ecosystem,” she says. Medically speaking, “lightning bugs create their light using two chemicals, luciferin and luciferase, both of which are used in research on cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and heart disease,” Dr. Kilmer says.