Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes


TaxonomyBrowse
Info
ImagesLinksBooksData

Family Lampyridae - Fireflies

Photuris lucicrescens ??? - Photuris Unknown beetle  - Pyropyga Pleotomus sp - Pleotomus pallens - male Firefly? - Photinus Photuris 9003185 Photuris - Photuris Firefly Larva - Lucidota atra Fireflies Genus Photinus - Photinus
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga (Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles)
Superfamily Elateroidea (Click, Firefly and Soldier Beetles)
Family Lampyridae (Fireflies)
Other Common Names
Firefly Beetles, Lightning Bugs
Pronunciation
lamb-PIER-ri-dee
Explanation of Names
Lampyridae Rafinesque 1815
from lampyris 'glowworm' from Greek 'shining'
Numbers
ca. 170 spp. in ~20 genera in our area(1), ~2200 described spp. in ~110 genera worldwide and estimated thousands undescribed(2)
Overview of our faunaFamily Lampyridae
Subfamily LAMPYRINAE
Incertae sedis Pterotus
Size
4-18 mm(1)
Identification
Soft-bodied beetles; head is concealed from above by pronotum (exposed in Cantharidae); last 2-3 abdominal sternites often modified to light-emitting organs; tarsal formula 5-5-5
most northeastern spp. can be identified using(3)
Habitat
larvae mostly in damp situations
Food
Larvae prey on small animals, including snails; adults of many genera do not feed(4). Female Photuris are known to lure Photinus males using the flash pattern of female Photinus, and eat them to obtain defensive chemicals(5)
Remarks
larvae luminescent, emit light from the tail area
Many firefly spp. are well chemically protected, primarily by the steroid-like lucibufagins that make them distasteful to jumping spiders and birds(5)
See Also
Print References
Eisner et al. (1997) Firefly “femmes fatales” acquire defensive steroids (lucibufagins) from their firefly prey. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94: 9723–9728.
North American Lampyridae on milkweed(6)
Works Cited
1.American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea
Arnett, R.H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley and J. H. Frank. (eds.). 2002. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
2.Order Coleoptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification...
Slipinski S.A., Leschen R.A.B., Lawrence J.F. 2011. Zootaxa 3148: 203–208.
3.The fireflies (Coleptera; Lampyridae) of Ontario
Luk S.P.L., Marshall S.A., Branham M.A. 2011. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification 16: 1-105.
4.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
5.For Love of Insects
Thomas Eisner. 2003. Belknap Press.
6.The Occurrence and Behaviors of North American Fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) on Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca L.
Lynn Faust and Hugh Faust. 2014. The Coleopterists Bulletin 68(2): 283-291.