Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Winter Firefly in Wildwood

Photograph © 2011, John Ford
I know that when someone mentions fireflies most people automatically think of balmy summer evenings with children chasing little sparkling lights around the yard squealing with glee whenever they manage to catch one. However, some of the members of the firefly family (Lampyridae) have different ideas about what constitutes a good time to be out roaming about.

I spotted this little guy (a Winter Firefly - Ellychnia corrusca) sunning himself in the early afternoon on February 6th on the west side of a relatively mature Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus flava) in Wildwood Park in Radford, Notice the relatively large cracks and bark scales in the bark; these are characteristic of mature trees of this species. They make great shelters for small critters that over winter here. Adults over winter for a single season in these protected areas on trees which are generally a foot or more off the ground and may be reused by subsequent generations.

Another thing that makes our little friend different than our summer fireflies is that he (or she) is a member of a group known as Diurnal Fireflies. These insects are active during the day rather than at night and spend their day light hours searching for food and mates. This is because while the larvae, pupae and newly emerged adults are capable of producing light; that ability is lost soon after emergence. Adults use pheromones to locate potential mates rather than the species specific rhythms of blinking lights which their nighttime cousins use.

By John Ford

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. This is the first "lifestyle" description I can find for this guy. Not even bugguide has this much!