The Sky Lights Up With The Twinkle of Fireflies In Search Of Mates In Windsor

The Ojibway Nature Reserve in Windsor is one of the last pockets of wildness in the busy city of Windsor, Ontario. It’s home to a rich diversity of plants and animals — including a number of species of fireflies. 

Researcher Graham Duggan and the team had their cameras ready to capture the action as darkness crept in. “As if by magic, tiny twinkling lights appeared amongst the trees and grasses, some flashing for a brief second and others streaking through the air.” This was the nightly dance of the firefly.

Each species has a distinct flash pattern. Fireflies produce a bright bioluminescent light within their abdomens that they use to communicate with each other — specifically to find a mate.

The male fireflies are the show-offs. They fly back and forth over the grass while flashing a pattern of light. They are hoping to win over a female firefly by impressing her with their dazzling display.

The females sit on the grass blades below, keeping an eye out for a worthy partner. If a female sees a male she likes, she will respond with her own flash, pointing her abdomen in his direction so that she won’t be missed.  The flashing conversation continues until the male joins her on her blade of grass where they mate in the twilight.

“Each night, we followed the males’ lead scouring the grasses and foliage searching for females. Upon finding one, we set up our specialized low-light camera and waited for the pair to find each other in the dark,” says Duggan. 

The team had to work fast because the fireflies would only flash for a couple of hours each night. “We were about to enter the world of these miniature creatures and it gave us all a new appreciation for the beauty that’s around us.”

Click play on the video above to watch.

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