Thursday, 16 April 2015

Firefly - Lampyridae

It wasn't until this summer that I saw Fireflies on the Coffs Coast for the first time. This prompted a quick bit of research to learn more about them.

One source said they are very like we humans in that the males are quite 'flashy'...... 

Fireflies are indeed not flies, but beetles and are found in the wetter regions of Australia, favouring rainforests and mangroves. 

The blinking light, which comes from segments on the underside of the tip of the abdomen is created by a chemical process. This is triggered when the beetle opens small apertures to allow air in. The chemicals react to the presence of oxygen with a blaze of light, but are soon exhausted. They quickly recharge however, in time for the next burst, thereby creating the flashing effect.

Males are the main flashers, cruising just after dusk emitting a series of controlled flashes as part of the mating sequence. Females also flash but have not been observed to fly with the males. With enormous eyes and a visor to keep his attention focused, he is on the lookout for an answering blink which indicates a suitably impressed, but flightless female. Firefly larvae and pupae are also slightly luminous. 

Adults are not known to feed (like some other beetles), but larvae prey on other insects' larvae, cutworms, slugs and small land snails.  They paralyse using secretions produced by a pair of acinose glands at the anterioe other end of the alimentary canal and injected through the perforate mandibles - this means that the prey is digested extraorally and the liquified tissues are imbibed.

Their short lives add a certain urgency to their flashy courting behaviour.


  1. sighted some firefly's tonight at front of my house at Sandy Beach , Morgans Rd

  2. Spectacularly thick out here in the Orara Valley this year....they really are magical