Obsessed with Fireflies
August 3, 2015 11:56 AM   Subscribe

So I am a bit obsessed with fireflies and other bioluminescent creatures. Help me find some experts and gain expertise!

For the past two years or so, I have led hikes for the Sierra Club with the specific intention of encountering amazing firefly displays. Of course, the beetles did not cooperate with us.

However, two recent trips I have done with friends have been amazing experiences: First was a isolated cabin in Western North Carolina (Nantahala National Forest) in which thousands of blue ghost fireflies emerged in the woods surrounding the cabin each night. I also witnessed synchronous fireflies there.

Last Friday night, I did a full moon paddle on a local river here in the Birmingham area (we did not use any lights on our kayaks and canoes) and a local species put on a dazzling display in the thousands all along the woods near the river. Even better was the thousands of faintly glowing firefly larvae on the muddy banks of the river which glowed for hours after the adults stopped their rituals.

After these recent experience, I know that I must find articles, scientists, books, and enthusiasts to really expand my knowledge of bioluminescent creatures.

I know I need to go to an academic library and started churning through databases, but do any my fellow mefites have any other suggestions? Anyone know of entomologists that I should contact for suggestions? There does not seem to a whole lot out there.

I am hoping that someone may chime in with a "Funny you should ask this question..."
posted by cinemafiend to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Looks like it's not returning, but the American Museum of Natural History did a super-cool exhibit on bioluminescence, and some of the media and references might be of interest.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:06 PM on August 3, 2015

So my first thought on seeing this was "Bioluminescent Bay" in Puerto Rico. On a small island called Vieques, there is a bay full of bioluminescent creatures that you can go kayaking through. There was a bit of a nature tour too to talk about the Dinoflagellates, which when bumped around in the water release a bright blue light.

Granted, this is more of a vacation thing than a strictly education thing - but still very pretty !
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 12:07 PM on August 3, 2015

Best answer: My academic advisor in college had some research side projects involving fireflies. Some googling turned up this article about a Science paper he published on synchronized firefly blinking. Here's his lab's homepage, which might have more info.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2015

Did you see this MetaFilter post by Wretch729 earlier this year? The Angel's Glow: Battlefield Legend Meets Biology
posted by BoscosMom at 12:44 PM on August 3, 2015

Best answer: Get in touch with the Firefly Watch out of the Boston Museum of Science! There's a lot of resources on their website for learning about fireflies and getting involved with other people interested in fireflies, and if you're planning on doing another firefly hike there are tons of teaching resources.

I did a firefly program for a naturalist position I had last summer and emailed them and they called me back right away and answered my questions and gave me ideas and mailed me a bunch of resources.
posted by geegollygosh at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2015

You don't have to go all the way to Puerto Rico to see bio-luminescent algae. Some of the beaches here in New England have a much lesser degree of that, but still definitely some pretty awesome bioluming. If you're somewhere near the ocean, go on a moonless night to beach not near streetlights or other artificial light and you may see the edges of the waves glow as they hit the shore. OR bring a bathing suit and go swimming with the glowy things ;) It's amazing. I'm sure you could find something similar at a beach in northern Florida.

Also, Edith Widder is an amazing person to read and learn about marine bio-luminescence. I saw a lecture by her at the New England Aquarium a few years back and she was absolutely fascinating. She has some TED talks.
posted by danapiper at 3:37 PM on August 3, 2015

Oh Flipboard wanted to tell me about Firefiles and bioluminescence today. Heres the article.
National Geographic: How Do Fireflies Glow? Mystery Solved After 60 Years
posted by Ness at 4:00 AM on August 4, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all for you suggestions and valuable links!
posted by cinemafiend at 1:35 PM on August 11, 2015

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