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Warm summer nights can feel magical. They are filled with soft breezes and shining stars in the night sky. One summer bug that shines like a star is the firefly. Some kids call them lightning bugs and catch them in a jar. But did you know that these bugs are not really flies? Instead they are beetles that use a chemical to shine their light. There are lots of other animals that are able to glow. Some fly, some glide, or squirm, or swim—and God created each of them to shine!

How Do Animals Glow?

Animals that shine their own light are called bioluminescent. These animals have chemicals in their bodies that cause them to glow. They include land animals such as fireflies, some kinds of worms, and even some snails and cockroaches. But most animals that glow live deep in the ocean where the sun does not shine. Giving off their own light helps many of these animals catch food or steer clear of pesky predators.

Check out some of these cool glowing creatures!

  • Firefly squid This squid is about three inches (7.5 cm) long. It makes its home in the ocean waters off Japan. Unlike fireflies, these creatures flash their lights in the ocean. They wash up on sandy beaches and look like shining stars in the night.
  • Glowworms Glowworms are not really worms but glowing baby insects. These baby bugs live in Australia and New Zealand. They start out as larvae and grow into small flies. They make sticky threads from their bodies and glow with a soft, blue-green light. The glow is used to attract small bugs into their threads for quick snacks!
  • Anglerfish Only the females of these strange and angry-looking deep-sea fish have their own lanterns. The light shines from a small rod on their heads. Smaller animals and fish come to the light and quickly become this fish’s next meal.
  • Comb jellies These cool underwater blobs look like jellyfish but do not sting. Comb jellies have a colorful glow. They look like rockets blasting off into the chilly waters of the ocean.

Make Your Own Glow-in-the-Dark Fireflies!

What you need:

  1. Glow-in-the-dark paint (yellow or green is best)
  2. Thin paintbrushes
  3. Small empty jar

Use your paintbrush to carefully paint lots of small dots on the inside of your jar. Do this until the entire jar is covered with dots. Let the paint dry. At night, turn off the light in your room and watch the jar glow. It will look as if your jar is filled with glowing fireflies!

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