I have always found it a little embarrassing that, as a naturalist, I never knew the differences between the fireflies in Ohio. After all, fireflies are one of the first animals people chase as children. If you grew up in the Eastern United States, you certainly enjoyed fireflies. But so few people could tell you much about these glowing critters and how to identify them. They were simply these magical beetles flittering about on summer nights, and for most of us, that's all we needed to know. Enjoying the spectacle is something everyone can appreciate. BUT, if you ever wanted to know more, now you can.
|Yellow-bellied Fireflies, Photinus scintillans, showing the typical firefly shape and color. many look alike, but their flash gives clue to the species identification.|
|Great new firefly book available now. See link below to purchase.|
Did you know??
1. Not all fireflies produce light as adults, but they can as larva.
2. Firefly flash rates, intensity and color differ between the species.
3. Firefly species are seasonal and some even flash only specific times of the night.
4. Some fireflies are cannibalistic and mimic the flash of other species to lure them in, and then eat them.
5. Many fireflies are light sensitive and city lights mimicking dawn and dusk have changed the distribution of species ranges.
6. Male fireflies flash to attract females, and sometimes they flash synchronously because they are all trying to be the first noticed.
|Fireflies that flash have abdominal segments that act as "lanterns" to show light created by bioluminescence. |
Pictured is the Yellow-Bellied Firefly, Photinus scintillans.
|It is extremely difficult to photograph the remarkable display of light. This photo by John Howard captures 2 flash patterns.|
There are some fireflies that you might find in Southern Ohio this winter and spring, even though it is not quite yet the flash season. One species you can find from late fall through the winter is the Winter Firefly, Ellychnia corrusca. It overwinters as an adult. This species does not flash, but from info in Lynn's book, I learned to find them on the south side of large tree trunks on sunny winter days.
|Ellychnia corrusca, the winter firefly.|
|Spring treetop flasher larva feeding on a Northern three-tooth snail (Triodopsis tridentata). Photo by Chris Bedel.|
|Fireflies in the genus Photuris (like these P. quadrifulgens) have long legs and large pronotums, usually with a black "anchor" mark.|
Other species found on the preserve with the help of Lynn Faust are:
The lanternless species
Sneaky Elf, Pyropyga decipiens
Woodland Lucy, Lucidota atra
The lanterned flashing species
Synchronous Firefly, Photinus carolinus
Mr. Mac, Photinus macdermotti
Creekside Tree Blinkers, Photinus sabulosus
The carnivorous species
Slow Blues, Photuris caerulucens
Chinese Lanterns and the Flashbulbs, Photuris sp.
Heebie-Jeebies, Photuris hebes
July Comets, Photuris lucicrescens
Dot-Dash, Photuris pennsylvanica
Variable Triple Flash, Photuris versicolor
This will be the year to find more new and unusual firefly species on the preserve. Watch for blog posts this summer about new species and some of the interesting species mentioned in the above list.
I cannot think of another long-awaited book that all naturalists need in their libraries. To purchase this great new book on fireflies, search the title on Amazon.com or click on link below.
Posted by: Mark Zloba