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For the United States & Canada
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Family Lampyridae - Fireflies

Firefly larva Microphotus angustus? - Microphotus angustus - male Lampyridae - Photinus Beetle - Photinus - male I Haven't a Clue Photinus Photinus sp. - Photinus Pyractomena angulata (Say) - Pyractomena angulata
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)
No Taxon (Series Elateriformia)
Superfamily Elateroidea (Click, Firefly and Soldier Beetles)
Family Lampyridae (Fireflies)
Other Common Names
Firefly Beetles, Lightning Bugs, Glowworns (1)
Explanation of Names
Lampyridae Rafinesque 1815
from lampyris 'glowworm' from Greek 'shining'
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
Incertae sedis Pterotus
4-18 mm(1)
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
In general, the bioluminescence of
Photinus is Yellow
Photuris is Green
Pyractomena is Orange-Yellow or Amber (1)
most northeastern spp. can be identified using Luk et al. 2011(3)
see Lloyd, 1995 for distribution of most e. US spp.(4)
larvae mostly in damp situations
Larvae prey on small animals, including snails; adults of many genera do not feed(5). Female Photuris are known to lure Photinus males using the flash pattern of female Photinus, and eat them to obtain defensive chemicals(6)
Life Cycle
Some species, especially the genera Photinus, Photuris, and Pyractomena, are distinguished by the unique courtship flash patterns emitted by flying males in search of females. In general, females of the Photinus genus do not fly, but do give a flash response to males of their own species.
Larvae produce light to deter predators, but some species lose this ability as adults.
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(6)
See Also
Print References
Faust. L.F. (2017) Fireflies, Glow-worms, and lightning bugs: Identification and natural history of the fireflies of the eastern and central United States and Canada. University of Georgia Press, Athens. 400 pp. (7)
Lewis, S. 2016. Silent sparks: The wondrous world of fireflies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. xi + 240 pp. (8)
Lloyd, J.E. 1990. Checklist and keys to fireflies of east-central Alabama. Stridulator 4(3): 9-21. (9)
Lloyd, J.E. 2002. Family 62: Lampyridae. Pp. 187–96. In: R.H. Arnett, M.C. Thomas, P.E. Skelley, and J.H. Frank (eds.) American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. xiv + 861 pp. (1)
Lloyd, J.E. 2003. On research and entomological education VI: Firefly species and lists, old and new. Florida Entomologist 86(2): 99–113. (10)
Luk S.P.L., S.A. Marshall, and M.A. Branham. 2011. The fireflies (Coleptera: Lampyridae) of Ontario. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification 16: 1-105. (3)
Majka C.G. 2012. The Lampyridae (Coleoptera) of Atlantic Canada. Journal of the Acadian Entomological Society 8: 11-29. (11)
Internet References
List and Distribution of Florida (& most e. US) Fireflies - prepared by J.E. Lloyd, June 1995 (4)
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...
Ślipiński 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. A distributional checklist of the beetles (Coleoptera) of Florida.
Peck & Thomas. 1998. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Gainesville. 180 pp.
5.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
6.For Love of Insects
Thomas Eisner. 2003. Belknap Press.
7.Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs: Identification and Natural History of the Fireflies of the E. and C. U.S. & Canada.
Faust, L.F. 2017. University of Georgia Press, Athens. 400 pp.
8.Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies
Sara Lewis. 2016. Princeton University Press.
9.Checklist and keys to fireflies of east-central Alabama.
Lloyd, J.E. 1990. Stridulator 4(3): 9-21.
10.On research and entomological education VI: Firefly species and lists, old and new.
Lloyd, J.E. 2003. Florida Entomologist 86(2): 99–113.
11.The Lampyridae (Coleoptera) of Atlantic Canada
Majka C.G. 2012. Journal of the Acadian Entomological Society 8: 11-29.