Fireflies, common around most of the United States, communicate with specific flashes of light. They use light for mating purposes. Each species evolved to have a unique pattern of flashes so individual fireflies can find mates of the same species. Along with finding mates, their flashes can do numerous things, such as warn predators about their toxicity. One group of cannibalistic fireflies called femme fatales even mimic other species to lure them in for a meal.
A nature enthusiast and technologist, Joey Stein, invented a product that lets people communicate with fireflies. It’s a handheld, battery-powered plastic device with two buttons controlling an LED light. The contraption looks roughly like a lightning bug. The Firefly Communicator allows people who have little knowledge of fireflies to attract them, something scientists have been doing with homemade contraptions in order to learn about the flash patterns of different sexes and species.
Amateur firefly conversationalists should walk around at twilight in an area with fireflies, preferably after a thunderstorm. It isn’t even necessary to buy a Firefly Communicator, you can try to build your own if you want. Attach an LED light to a battery and click it on and off. Try different patterns, and if you are lucky you’ll attract a few fireflies.