If you thought fireflies are cute innocent creatures, think again! They are actually cunning predators!
Fireflies are usually associated with fairy tales and are often seen as a symbol of joy or hope, but in real life they can be really nasty little insects! Adult fireflies usually do not feed but they will ingest nectar and pollen. Some female fireflies of the Photuris species, however, have a nasty little secret!
They attack flying fireflies at night. They pretend they are the females of the Photinus genus by faking their flashes. That lures the unsuspecting Photinus males, who are then promptly eaten by the ‘femme fatale’ Photuris. The females do this so that they can ingest a chemical called lucibufagins, which they can not produce by themselves. The chemical is toxic and will protect them from predators. It makes them rather unpalatable and deadly to ingest.
Firefly larvae are predaceous and they inject slugs, snails, earthworms and other soft bodied organisms with a highly toxic digestive substance. This paralyzes the pray quickly and liquefies the body contents. The larvae suck the liquid out and leave their prey ‘dry’. Both the adults and the larvae have complete digestive systems. The food is broken down and the nutrients are absorbed and carried to the different parts of the body by an open circulatory system. Fireflies are not so innocent now that you've seen them in a different ‘light’, are they?