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Family Lampyridae - Fireflies

Photinus pyralis - male What kind of firefly? - Photuris Black Firefly - Lucidota atra Photuris Lightning Bug / Firefly - Photinus Firefly Beetle? - Microphotus Photuris sp. - Photuris Beetle - Ellychnia corrusca
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)
No Taxon (Series Elateriformia)
Superfamily Elateroidea (Click, Firefly and Soldier Beetles)
Family Lampyridae (Fireflies)
Other Common Names
Firefly Beetles, Lightning Bugs, Glowworns (1)
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
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)
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)
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.
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.
Faust. L. and H. Faust. (2014) The occurrence and behaviors of North American fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) on milkweed, Asclepias syriaca L. The Coleopterists Bulletin 68(2): 283-291. (6)
Lloyd, J.E. 2003. On research and entomological education VI: Firefly species and lists, old and new. Florida Entomologist 86(2): 99–113. (7)
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.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.
Faust, L. and H. Faust. 2014. The Coleopterists Bulletin 68(2): 283-291.
7.On research and entomological education VI: Firefly species and lists, old and new.
Lloyd, J.E. 2003. Florida Entomologist 86(2): 99–113.