Family Lampyridae - Fireflies
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
No Taxon (Series Elateriformia)
Family Lampyridae (Fireflies)
Other Common Names
Firefly Beetles, Lightning Bugs, Glowworms (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
Soft-bodied beetles; head is concealed from above by pronotum (versus 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
, green; Pyractomena
, orange-yellow or amber(1)
the best guide to the eastern fauna in(3)
keys to most northeastern spp. in(4)
larvae mostly in damp situations
Larvae prey on small animals, including snails; adults of many genera do not feed. Female Photuris
are known to lure Photinus
males using the flash pattern of female Photinus
, and eat them to obtain defensive chemicals(5)
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(5)
"Noteworthy sexual dimorphism: females of several species (e.g. Pleotomus spp., Pleotomodes spp., Lucidota luteicollis LeConte, and several in Photinus) have shortened elytra and wings, and females or both males and females of Pyropyga nigricans (G. A. Olivier) from some sites have reduced wings and elytra (Lloyd 1999). Brachyptery is not known to occur in Photuris, Ellychnia, or Pyractomena. Females of some genera, such as Microphotus and Phausis are larva-like to some degree, but whether they are larviform is problematic (see Cicero, 1988)." -Lloyd, 2002, American Beetles Vol. 2
Martin G.J., Stanger-Hall K.F., Branham M.A., Da Silveira L.F.L., Lower S.E., Hall D.W., Li X., Lemmon A.R., Lemmon E.M., Bybee S.M. (2019) Higher-Level Phylogeny and Reclassification of Lampyridae (Coleoptera: Elateroidea). Insect Systematics and Diversity 3(6), 11: 1-15.
Green, J. W. 1948. Two new species of Lampyridae from southern Florida, with a generic revision of the Nearctic fauna (Coleoptera). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 74(2): 61–73. (JSTOR)
McDermott, F. A. 1964. The taxonomy of the Lampyridae (Coleoptera). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 90(1): 1–72.(JSTOR)
|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.
|4.||The fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) of Ontario|
Luk S.P.L., Marshall S.A., Branham M.A. 2011. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification 16: 1-105.
|5.||For Love of Insects|
Thomas Eisner. 2003. Belknap Press.
|6.||Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies|
Sara Lewis. 2016. Princeton University Press.