Friday, June 27, 2014

Dark Fireflies

A Dark Firefly, Lucidota atra

     Lots of folks are noticing the fireflies, or lightning bugs, (actually Lampyridae beetles) out this time of year. Not as many notice the Dark Fireflies that are also out though. These are diurnal, emerging during the day, although usually in dark woods. They use pheromones to attract each other rather than the lights we normally associate with "regular" firefly beetles.
     Interestingly though, many species can be made to artificially light up in lab conditions. Their larvae and pupae are all also capable of glowing, especially if disturbed, perhaps as a warning to their bad taste and toxicity. Sometimes called Black Fireflies, adults will sometimes secrete a liquid from their leg joints if threatened that is believed to be distasteful to many potential predators.
Black Firefly

     So next time you go seeking fireflies, don't just go looking at night. You can find some Dark Fireflies if you go looking for them in the woods during the day before their light-up cousins are putting on their light at night.

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