A firefly’s night-time glow comes from a protein in its gut, called luciferase. Scientists from the Donnelly Centre lab at the University of Toronto have been using luciferase in cancer research. But they’ve discovered that with a single drop of blood and the protein’s help, we can see not only if the blood contains COVID-19 antibodies, but how much – in just an hour, at a wee cost of about $2. A game changer. A pandemic fighter. Read more here.
The humble firefly provides yet another unsung, essentially invisible service of nature. They live in grassy meadows, forest edges and even lawns where grass is allowed to grow tall. During their 1 to 2 year stage, the larvae lurk on the ground, dining amongst the leaf and twig litter on earwigs, sow bugs, snails and worms – a service in itself.
But fireflies need our help. They need darkness at night. Yard lights, floods, driveway lights, and porch lights prevent firefly light from being seen by other fireflies. The males and females vigorously signal each other with those sparkling flashes, to find mates. And so, let the grass grow or provide a meadow space, leave as many fallen leaves as you can – and embrace a dark sky. Fireflies our solidly on our team.
… and so, what other services of nature have we yet to discover? The first rule of tinkering is to save all the parts – exactly why TIWLT conserves nature in the land we love.