Family: Lampyridae (fireflies, glow worms)
Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda
(insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola >
Holometabola > Coleoptera
> Polyphaga > Superfamily: Cantharoidea
Small to large (3-30mm), soft-bodied beetles . They are elongate and parallel-sided, usually black or/and brown. The
abdomens are mobile and bear light-producing organs - in the males usually on
the last 2 segments and in the females, usually on the last segment. There are 2
subfamilies, Lampyrinae and
Luciolinae. In the Lampyrinae, the head is hidden by
the prothorax and the females are unlike the males as they have no wings and
look like the larvae of both subfamilies. In the Luciolinae, the head is partially exposed and the
females have wings and resemble the males.
Adult fireflies emit light, either steadily or in controlled
flashes, depending on the species. The phenomenon of animals producing light is
called bioluminescence. The light is produced when a substance called luciferin
is oxidised in the presence of water and an enzyme called luciferase. Mating is
facilitated by males and females signalling, rather like Morse code, each
species recognising its own.
Only males fly and females remain in grasses, under logs and
stones. The larvae feed on slugs and snails and the adults are
believed not to feed.