Firefliy Resting on a Leaf, Barbados Pocket Guide


Fireflies (Aspidosoma ignitum) out and about Barbados at night are a beautiful sight to behold. Despite the name ‘fireflies’, these brown, soft bodied insects are not flies at all but winged beetles that belong to members of the beetle order Coleoptera.

How and Why Fireflies Light Up

Fireflies produce a light by way of a chemical reaction called bioluminescence that occurs in their lower abdomens. In the presence of luciferase, oxygen is combined with calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the chemical luciferin. It is at this point that a bioluminescent enzyme light is produced. Hence the flashing we see.


Based on the precise controlled timing of these flashes, males and females are able to easily identify members of the same species. This specified flashing avoids any confusion in attracting fireflies from different species.


Despite this flashing, very little heat is given off and so there is no chance of the firefly heating up and wasting energy.


Another reason fireflies glow is to ward off predators. Their tiny bodies are filled with rather distasteful and sometimes poisonous predator-repelling chemicals called lucibufagens. Once a predator comes in contact with this chemical it serves as a constant reminder to stay away in the future.


2019 BPG SunAds bit
2019 BPG SunAds imart