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



Genus Photuris

Photuris lucicrescens ??? - Photuris Lightning bug - Photuris Photuris Firefly - Photuris Firefly - Photuris Photuris sp. - Photuris July comets  - Photuris - female Genus Photinus - Photuris
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga
No Taxon (Series Elateriformia)
Superfamily Elateroidea
Family Lampyridae (Fireflies)
Subfamily Photurinae
Genus Photuris
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
For more than a century most Photuris spp. in NA were lumped under the name P. pensylvanica, but Barber's (1951) work on flashing behavior led to recognition of multiple species and to further research on the use of flash patters in firefly taxonomy(1).
Explanation of Names
Photuris LeConte 1851
Greek 'luminous tail'
22 described spp., 28 more in prep. in our area(1)
10-20 mm(2)
Head often visible from above, not completely covered by pronotum as in Photinus. Legs typically long and slender, not compressed, antennae simple(3). Elytral fold, visible from side, incomplete (left) vs complete in Photinus (right)(4)

identification to sp. is very difficult as the genitalia of all Photuris males are virtually identical and both the males and females use a variety of flash patterns(2)
keys to spp. in (5)(6) should not be relied upon(1)
Females mimic flash patterns of females of other genera, esp. Photinus, and eat the lured males --for nutrition and, perhaps, to sequester chemical defenses (7).
Life Cycle
Mating occurs high up in trees. Adults are relatively long-lived, survive in captivity for a month or more(2)
Species identification is problematic. Several undescribed species exist which can be separated only by subtle differences in flash patterns. Most submitted images will remain on the genus page only because of this new finding.
Print References
Gronquist M., Schroeder F.C., Ghiradella H., Hill D., McCoy E.M., Meinwald J., Eisner T. (2006) Shunning the night to elude the hunter: Diurnal fireflies and the “femmes fatales." Chemoecology 16: 39-43.
Lloyd J.E. (1965) Aggressive mimicry in Photuris: firefly femmes fatales, Science 149: 653–654.
Lloyd J.E. (1969) Flashes of Photuris fireflies: their value and use in recognizing species. Fla. Entomol. 52: 29-35.
Lloyd J.E. (1980) Male Photuris fireflies mimic sexual signals of their females’ prey. Science 210: 669-671.
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.Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies
Sara Lewis. 2016. Princeton University Press.
3.A Manual of Common Beetles of Eastern North America
Dillon, Elizabeth S., and Dillon, Lawrence. 1961. Row, Peterson, and Company.
4.Peterson Field Guides: Beetles
Richard E. White. 1983. Houghton Mifflin Company.
5.North American fireflies in the genus Photuris.
Barber, H.S. and F.A. McDermott. 1951. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 117(1): 1–58.
6.The North American fireflies of the genus Photuris DeJean a modification of Barber's key (Coleoptera; Lampyridae).
McDermott, F.A. 1967. The Coleopterists' Bulletin 21(4): 106–116.
7.For Love of Insects
Thomas Eisner. 2003. Belknap Press.