Science: Fireflies Fatales

As conniving femmes fat ales, Mata Hari and Delilah pale by comparison to female fireflies of the genus Photuris. Like other fireflies, these nocturnal, winged beetles send out short, rhythmic flashes of light as part of a special signal system that attracts males of the same species. The female Photuris practices a deadly variation of this ritual. It modifies its signal to mimic the flash pattern of different species of fireflies and thus lures unsuspecting males. Once they are in reach, the female devours them.

This odd bit of insect behavior was discovered by James E. Lloyd, an entomologist at the University...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!