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Black Firefly (Lucidota atra)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black Firefly

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Image Credit: Linda D. in MI
Full-sized image of the Black-Firefly Thumbnail image of the Black-Firefly

The Black Firefly has light organs, but prefers using aerial pheromones instead of bioluminescence to communicate presence and position.

Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Black Fireflies have completely black elytra (wing coverings) while other relatives have some yellow edging on them. The pronotum ('shoulder' area) is round and yellow, extending over the head like a shield. In the center of it is a large black spot with red edging both sides.

Black Firefly males may use their light organ when emerging from the pupal case, but it does not use it as an adult. Instead, chemical pheromones are sent through the air to inform members of the species that they are in the area. Males and females retain reduced light organs so they are fireflies despite staying in the dark. Like all fireflies, Black Fireflies can be found in woodlands, forests, parks, fields, backyards, and in meadows near water. This species prefers areas with moisture and humidity. Look for them in the air, on the ground, and on plants, but don't wait for them to illumine; it's not likely to happen with this species.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Lampyridae
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          Genus: Lucidota
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            Species: atra
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lucidota atra
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 7mm to 13mm (0.27" to 0.51")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, yellow, red
Descriptors: glowing, light, flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 7mm (0.3in) and 13mm (0.5in)
Lo: 7mm
Md: 10mm
Hi: 13mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
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State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
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State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Black Firefly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black Firefly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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