University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Mystery Bug Answers


Mystery Picture #16

(Mystery Pictures)(Mystery Pictures)


While some people may not recognize these insects at first glance, most have seen them blinking about on a warm summer evening--they are fireflies (also known as lightning bugs!). These are some of the most common light-producing insects.

They have light-producing chemicals in special organs inside their abdomens. The light they produced is called perfect light. This is because in the production of light, no energy is wasted as heat. They use their light to attract mates. Males fly around flashing their light off and on trying to attract a female. The females sit on the ground and flash responses to the males. Different species use different flash patterns and rhythms. Some species may only flash at a particular time of the evening.


This is a centipede. It is an arthropod, but not an insect. It is a long flattened animal with 15 or more pairs of legs. You can identify a centipede easily --each body segment bears a single pair of legs. They are found in various places, but usually occur in protected areas such as in the soil, under bark, or in rotten logs. They can move very quickly. They feed on insects, spiders, and other small animals. Be careful when handling these animals because they all possess poison jaws which are used to paralyze their prey. Most are harmless to humans, but some of the larger ones can inflict a painful bite.

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