The Firefly Communicator Lets You Relay Insect Pick-Up Lines

One of the best parts of summer, if you live in the right region to see it, is when swarms of fireflies illuminate the evening twilight. That bioluminescent glow is a form of communication for the little critters, and scientists have mostly cracked the code. That's how it's possible to create something like the Firefly Communicator, an inexpensive smartphone-controlled gadget that flashes signals to fireflies in their own language. The only caveat? The signals are almost exclusively booty calls.

Related: Every Human Is Bioluminescent

Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

For fireflies, those magical twinkling evenings are really a wild singles mixer. During the mating ritual, the female fireflies sit in the leaves, watching the males fly around flashing their telltale signals ("Hey ladies, like what you see?"), which are specific to their species. When the female sees one she likes, she flashes the same signal back ("Why yes I do! How's about you and I get to know each other better?")

Related: There Are Billions Of Bugs Flying Overhead

The Firefly Communicator is a bug-shaped device that's designed to join in on these flirtations. Inventor Joey Stein collaborated with entomologists to equip the gadget with a variety of known firefly communication codes, which are programmed into a database that will be regularly updated as new patterns are identified. To use the Communicator, you just pair it with your smartphone, push a single button, and the built-in LED light does the rest.

Does The Firefly Communicator Really Work?

Just ask New York Times reporter Joanna Klein. She tried one out on a humid evening by a river in North Carolina. When she saw a flash nearby, she chose to imitate the signal of a female firefly, and pressed the button to say "hi." A male blinked back and began approaching her. Klein wrote, "It landed on my sister, who was standing beside me, and started crawling on her neck, flashing hysterically." She later asked an evolutionary biologist, who affirmed she had caught a "sex-starved male." Her attempts at attracting a female weren't as successful, which she chalks up to female fireflies being more picky about the pattern and time interval—something us humans are too ignorant to understand at this point.

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The Firefly Communicator Lets You Speak Firefly

Check out the Kickstarter video for the novel gadget.

Firefly Communication

Learn more about how lightning bugs speak to one another.

What Makes Some Animals Glow?

Introducing bioluminescence.

Written by Ashley Hamer January 5, 2017

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