Happy Friday, Bug Buddies!!! We hope you’re having a great Friday. This week we wanted to celebrate our 4th of July, Independence Day, with some fireworks of a different kind. We’ve been saving this edition especially for this week. There are some amazing bugs in the insect world. Some are spectacularly beautiful, some are hideous, some are terrifying, and some are almost cute. But in our opinion, none are more fascinating or more intriguing than Cucuyos. Cucuyo is the South American common name for Pyrophorus beetles. The genus name Pyrophorus is Greek and translates as “fire carrier”. Cucuyos belong to the “Click Beetle” family, and there are about 40 species of Cucuyos distributed from southern Florida and Texas, through the Caribbean, and through Central and South America down to Brazil. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We only included two pictures today, but for the first time in our Friday Flyers features we’re including a video!!! We hope you enjoy it.
Click Beetles get their name from a unique capability they have developed. Most beetles are pretty dumb! Beetles like Scarabs can be flipped over on their backs, and they can’t figure out how to turn over. They’ll just lie there flailing their legs in the air, sometimes for hours! Click Beetles have discovered a quick and easy way to get back on their feet. When they end up on their backs, they flick open their wing covers and flip themselves up into the air. If they don’t land upright, they’ll just keep doing it until they do land on their feet. This flipping makes a clicking sound, and that’s where the name comes from. So now, here’s your introduction to Cucuyos.
As beetles go, Cucuyos are pretty plain. They are basically dark brown, without colorful markings, horns, or mandibles, they don’t hum or buzz, and they aren’t very big. So why are Cucuyos our favorite beetles? Because they’re FUN!!! In addition to their “clicking” ability, THEY LIGHT UP!!! If you look at our picture today, you’ll see two lighter colored circles on the hind part of the thorax, just forward of the wing covers. These spots are actually lights that Cucuyos use to attract mates and repel predators. And they are BRIGHT! These “headlights” are several times brighter than firefly lights. They can even make their headlights brighter or dimmer and what’s more, they stay lit---sometimes for more than a minute! These headlights are usually slightly greenish yellow. You can see a Cucuyo from a long distance away at night. In the trees, they look like glowing eyes. And when they crawl with their headlights lit, they look like miniature cars on the highway. If you manage to put several in a jar, you can actually read by their light! And just when you think it can’t get any better, there’s another surprise. They have an orangy-yellow light at the end of their abdomens---a tail light! Cucuyos are truly amazing.
It is possible to keep adult Cucuyos as pets, at least for a short time. The adults eat pollen and small insects like aphids. But raising them is another story. Like most beetles, the larval life cycle is slow. The larvae which also glow in the dark, can spend a few years in the larval stage. This is partly due to the relatively nutrient-poor food that they eat, like decaying leaves and occasionally other small insect larvae.
For those of you who like macro photography, it’s not difficult to get close-ups because Cucuyos will often remain stationary and motionless. But it’s almost impossible to get a great close-up picture and simultaneously capture the bioluminescent lights. Even video photography is difficult because in order to capture the brightness of the lights, you have to underexpose the Cucuyo. After snapping a few photos, most photographers choose to sit back and just observe these magnificent creatures. You’ll never tire of seeing them. We hope you’ll enjoy our video today, and share it with your friends. And if you like this video, please let us know. It’s our first video footage here on Facebook, but we have lots of video from our jungle exploits that we could share in the future. Have a great 4th of July! See you on the trail!
And don’t forget to visit the Friday Flyers archive on our website. You can now refer to all of the past editions complete with all the photos, in a stable and permanent format. We hope you’ll visit our website and check it out at:
We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Friday Flyers. We love sharing our interest in butterflies and insects with you. Please enjoy the photos we have posted with this week’s edition, and be sure to see all the previous pictures in our Friday Flyers album. Remember to “like” our Wonders Of Nature page, and be sure to pass it along to all your Facebook Friends. We hope you’ll visit our Wonders Of Nature department soon, and we look forward to seeing you.