Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae)

  • James E. Lloyd
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_3811

Fireflies occur on all continents except Antarctica, and are best known for the biochemical light they emit. In some regions of North America the common flashing species are known as lightningbugs; in rural Jamaica fireflies are called blinkies but in Kingston they are peenywallies; in Latin America they are luciernaga; in Japan hotaru; in Great Britain and northern Europe, including Hamlet’s Denmark (Act 1, Scene V), the single or more common resident species Lampyris noctiluca(L.) is known as “the glowworm” (“Glühwürmchen”); and in New Guinea pidgin they are “binatang em i gat lait bilong as.” Fireflies appear in folk culture and tradition old and recent around the world: an Asian myth relates a burning grass origin, and one from Europe says that if a glowworm enters the house it warns of impending infant death; in colonial Hispanic America fireflies were used and subsequently outlawed as signals for romanti c trysts (this is more commonly told of luminescent click beetles, family...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Eisner T, Goetz MA, Hill DE, Smedley SR (1997) Firefly “femmes fatales” acquire defensive steroids (lucibufagins) from their firefly prey. Proc Natl Acad Sci 94:9723–9728PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Herring P (ed) (1978) Bioluminescence in action. Academic Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  3. Lloyd JE (1966) 1966 Studies on the flash communication system in Photinus fireflies. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Miscellaneous Publication No. 130. 96 ppGoogle Scholar
  4. Lloyd JE (1971) Bioluminescence and communication in insects. Ann Rev Entomol 16:97–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lloyd JE (1983) Bioluminescence and communication in insects. Ann Rev Entomol 28:131–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lloyd JE (1997) Firefly mating ecology, selection, and evolution. In: Choe JC, Crespi BJ (eds) The evolution of mating systems in insects and arachnids. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, pp 184–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lloyd JE (2002) Lampyridae (with overview and key to North American genera). In: Arnett RH Jr, Thomas MC, Skelley PE, Frank JH (eds) American beetles; Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea. CRC Press, New York, NY, pp 187–196Google Scholar
  8. Ohba N (1983) Studies on the communication system of Japanese fireflies. Science Report of the Yokosuka City Museum No. 30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • James E. Lloyd
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA