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

Calendar
Upcoming Events

Discussion of 2018 gathering

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

TaxonomyBrowse
Info
ImagesLinksBooksData

Genus Photinus

Firefly - Photinus Beetle - Lightening-Bug - Posterior Lit - Photinus pyralis - male BG2931 E7861 - Photinus Firefly - Photinus obscurellus - male Photinus pyralis another Photinus? - Photinus - male Photinus? Firefly - Photinus Lampyrid - 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)
No Taxon (Series Elateriformia)
Superfamily Elateroidea (Click, Firefly and Soldier Beetles)
Family Lampyridae (Fireflies)
Subfamily Lampyrinae
Tribe Lucidotini
Genus Photinus
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
revised in(1)
Explanation of Names
Photinus LaPorte 1833
Greek photeinos 'shining'(2)
Numbers
34 described spp., 13 more in prep. in our area(3)
Size
6-14 mm
Range
e US to CO-TX(3)
Habitat
adults are terrestrial (vs. arboreal)(1); larvae, subterranean(3)
Life Cycle
in most spp., activity lasts for about one-half hour and then decreases slowly over the next 30-40 minutes, until eventually only an occasional flash can be seen. (4)
Have potent chemical defenses, primarily the steroid-like lucibufagins. These chemical defenses are known to make the beetles distasteful to jumping spiders and birds. Female Photuris are known to lure in males of this genus in order to consume them and obtain the defensive compounds (5).
Remarks
notes per(1)(4)
DIVISION I: male ventrite 5 with pale apical border, except in P. cookii(1); generally, diminutive, early flying, single-flashing fireflies found along forest edges and roadside hedges, and over sheltered lawns in isolated colonies(4)
marginellus - ne US + AL-MS (Lloyd didn't survey w. Gulf states (4)), flash while hovering, avg male flash interval 2.9s
curtatus - NY to OK & SD, morphology, genitalia, distribution and male flash interval matched those of marginellus
floridanus - FL-GA (6), avg male flash intervals of 3.5 seconds
sabulosus - NY-IL-TN-NC, avg male flash intervals of 3.8 seconds
texanus - w. to c. TX, most similar to marginellus
immaculatus - one record from c. TX (Gillespie Co.(1))
acuminatus - NC, FL, very rare
cookii - scattered se US records, non-luminous, very rare

DIVISION II: 22 described spp. by 1966(4); identification of single spmns via morphology alone often impossible(4)
Remarkably, the behavioral affinities noted by Lloyd(4) parallel the morphological relationships determined by Green(1)

pyralis Group: male ventrite 5 with pale apical border(1), except in Ph. concisus(7); usually in woodland borders but pyralis can be ubiquitous(4)
flash signals are either of the simple "flash-answer" type as in Div. I and some other Div. II spp., or of the "flash-delay-answer" type found in other members of Div. II(4)
pyralis - e US (TX-FL-NY-NE), absent along s. Atlantic coast, found in var. habitats, male flash-pattern is a single long flash emitted during flight that resembles the letter J.
australis - se US (MO-FL-NC), nearly always confined to shaded areas and dense bushes, quick short flash every ~4 secs.
scintillans - ne US (NY-PA-MD area), females brachypterous, males give quick flash every ~2.5s
concisus - c TX(7)

punctatus Group: use simple flash-answer signals w/ short female delay times, group is se US in distribution; females brachypterous, except in umbratus
brimleyi - e OK to w NC, avg male flash interval of 1.2s
punctulatus - c IL to ne KS, (also s OK & ne TX, but little surveys by Lloyd across se US(4)), avg male flash interval of 1 second.
tenuicinctus - sw Ozark Mtns (ne OK-nw AR), males w/ single sharp pules or bimodal w/ second mode slightly more intense than the 1st, avg interval of 1.7s
umbratus - coastal areas LA-FL-NC, flash pattern, a single long flash, emitted during a dipping gesture similar to pyralus (which is absent from the s. Atlantic coast), avg. flash interval was 6.8 seconds.
collustrans - FL-GA, flash is single pulse emitted while flying lateral arcs, avg flash interval was 2.3s
tanytoxus - FL endemic(6), sister to collustrans
granulatus - s Great Plains (e KS to e TX, sw AR), single flash w/ avg interval of 1.3s
dimissus - s OK to s TX, bright twinkling flash as if bimodal, intervals of about 1s
stellaris - w to c TX, all black elytra, pronotum lacks black spot or stripe

consanguineus Group: females winged(1); flashes varied and complex, multi-pulsed with long time delays, no sp. has the simple flash-answer signal discussed previously. some spp. morphologically indistinguishable.
knulli - s. AZ
indictus - e US, except e. of Appalachia, non-luminous, may be a marsh sp.
lineellus - mostly FL peninsula, 1-3 very short flashes at 2-3s intervals
ignitus - mostly New England, very short flash at 5s intervals
consanguineus (complex) - e. US mostly e of Appalachia, two quick pulses, flash interval of 5.5 seconds
macdernotti - second sp. of the consanguineus (complex), e US (as above), two quick pulses, upward flight during second pulse, interval betw. flash pattern was 2s

ardens Group: females winged, as w/ previous group, the signals of the ardens group are complex and involve multi-pulse flash patterns and time delays.
consimilis (complex) - e US, highest density in FL, flash pattern: 4-9 quick pulses with an avg flash interval of 10.6 seconds, or 2 or 3 slow pulses with a 12.4s interval.
carolinus - mostly in Smokey Mtns, avg flash-pattern interval 13.8 seconds
ardens - ME to the Dakotas, 2 or 3 fast pulses while flying horizontally, avg 6.4s between flash sets
Works Cited
1.Revision of the Nearctic species of Photinus (Lampyridae: Coleoptera).
Green, J.W. 1956. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 28: 561–613.
2.Composition of scientific words
Brown R.W. 1956. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. 882 pp.
3.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.
4.Studies on the flash communication system in Photinus fireflies.
Lloyd, J.E. 1966. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 130: 1-95.
5.For Love of Insects
Thomas Eisner. 2003. Belknap Press.
6. A distributional checklist of the beetles (Coleoptera) of Florida.
Peck & Thomas. 1998. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Gainesville. 180 pp.
7.A new Photinus firefly, with notes on mating behavior and a possible case of character displacement (Coleoptera: Lampyridae).
Lloyd, J.E. 1968. The Coleopterists Bulletin 22(1): 1-10.