×
BugFinder Insects by State Spiders Butterflies & Moths Bees, Ants, & Wasps Beetles All Bugs Videos (YouTube)

Pennsylvania Firefly (Photuris pennsylvanica)


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



Loading SVG image placeholder
1/2
Image Credit: Image copyright www.InsectIdentification.org; No Reproduction Permitted
Full-sized image of the Pennsylvania-Firefly Thumbnail image of the Pennsylvania-Firefly
2/2
Image Credit: Alex B. from MA
Full-sized image #2 of the Pennsylvania-Firefly Thumbnail image #2 of the Pennsylvania-Firefly

Summer evenings are made brighter by the Pennsylvania Firefly, but that doesn't mean better for every male firefly in the area.



Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
On dry summer nights, the Pennsylvania Firefly emits a yellow-green glimmer of light every few seconds. The light comes from an enzyme called luciferase and produces virtually no heat. The ability for a living organism to produce light is called bioluminescence. This flashing light signal is meant to attract members of the opposite sex. If a pair successfully finds each other, they mate and a population continues to exist in that area. Sometimes, and deliberately, the female's signal attracts members of a different genus. Careless males from the genus Photinus find this a costly mistake. If males respond and approach females from the Photuris genus, they are killed and eaten by the female. Consuming the males allows the females to absorb a steroid naturally found in the Photinus males. Females that had high levels of this steroid, lucibufagin, in their own system became less appetizing to jumping spiders that attacked them. One small taste of lucibufagin was enough to deter the jumping spider from continuing to attack or eat the female. Longer life means more opportunities to reproduce, so the mimicry pays off for the whole Pennsylvania Firefly species.

Pennsylvania Fireflies look similar to Big Dipper Firefly. An easy way to differentiate them is by examining the elytra (the black wing coverings). Pennsylvania Fireflies have a thin stripe of orange or yellow that stretches from the 'shoulder' down to the bottom of the elytra. The dome-shaped thorax (shoulder plate) is yellow around the edges and has a black mark in the center with two red spots on either side of it.

This species of firefly eats other insects in addition to the males of Photinus. Smaller bugs, snails and worms also comprise its diet. This particular species has been named the state insect of Pennsylvania.




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




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Lampyridae
View More
          Genus: Photuris
View More
            Species: pennsylvanica
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Photuris pennsylvanica
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 10mm (0.31" to 0.39")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, red, yellow, ivory, orange
Descriptors: bug, light, bright, night, flashing, glimmer, flying, harmless, dusk, neon
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 8mm (0.3in) and 10mm (0.4in)
Lo: 8mm
Md: 9mm
Hi: 10mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
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
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Firefly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Sitemap


Beetle Identification Butterfly Identification Caterpillar Identification Spider ID

www.InsectIdentification.org • Content ©2006- InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved. The InsectIdentification.org logo, its written content, and watermarked photographs/imagery are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and is protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. This resource uses publically-released information. Material presented throughout this website is for entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for scientific research or medical advice (regarding bites, etc...).Please consult licensed, degreed professionals for such information. By submitting images to us (InsectIdentification.org) you acknowledge that you have read and understood our Site Disclaimer as it pertains to "User-Submitted Content". When emailing please include your location and the general estimated size of the specimen in question if possible. Please direct all inquiries and comments to insectidentification AT gmail.com.

www.InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2006-

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo