Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Green-Eyed Click Beetle
Well that's a traditional lightning bug or firefly in the picture there. They make a cool yellow light from their tails that turns off and on, I suppose depending on how horny they are. They are found most everywhere east of the Rockies. If it would rain just a little, our bayside part of the Island would be covered in the them ... the trade-off is absolutely no mosquitos.
But what I wanted to write about was the green-eyed click beetle. I have been searching all over the web but very iittle is there (the rock band Firefly is much more common). At a little over a half inch long, they are very difficult to photograph with my prehistoric digital equipment. Let's just say that they have two neon-green eyes that glow ten times brighter than any lightning bug!
Honestly, I asked my wife to check it out and she agreed they were really cool. They have two headlights exactly like a Chevy Neon. We've had hundreds of them here for some reason. I pride myself on stealing a non-copyrighted picture, knowing the taxonomy, and learning all that kind of stuff, In this case I am totally stumped. If anyone knows of these rascals please feel free to chime in.
It turns out that the click-beetle family has quite a few relatives all over the world, maybe 3000 variants, some large enough to eat snails (Malaysia). All are carnivorous (cool!). Many have glowing eyes, or rather a patch just behind the eyes that can glow red, green, yellow or neon at night. There seems to be a feeling that some of these click beetles in Mexico can be quite poisonous ... but these local ones have been down my shirt and in my wife's hair with no apparent ill effects. We save them and blow them away downwind.
I can see why folks feel creepy about these critters, though, as they use an enzyme called Luciferase to make the light source. Maybe that's it.