Biology of the Firefly Pyractomena Lucifera (Coleoptera: Lampyridae)


  • Lawrent L. Buschman


The firefly Pyractomena lucifera (Melsh.) occurs in fresh water marshes throughout the eastern half of temperate North America. Larvae captured prey both above and below the water surface and dragged it above water to feed. Prey records included: snails (n = 38) (Gastropoda: Pulmonata), freshwater limpets (n = 5) (Gastropoda: Ancylidae), a jumping spider (Salticidae), a damselfly nymph (Odonata) and a leech (Annelida: Hirudinea). Cryptically pigmented pupae were found on emergent vegetation and did not glow when probed. The pupal stage lasted 6.8 days for males and 6.4 days for females. At dusk males flew over the vegetation emitting single flashes (0.2 sec long, 26 @*C) at 2.9-5.1 sec intervals (17-24 @*C). Females answered male flashes with single flashes (ca. 1 sec long) at delays of 0.7-1.5 sec (17-27 @*C). Mated females seldom answered male flashes. Females oviposited when they were 5-6 days old, but 2-4 days after mating. They laid 30-194 eggs (mean = 102) and the number of eggs laid correlated with pupal weight of the female (correlation coefficient = 0.82). Eggs measured 0.8 mm and hatched in 15 days. They became faintly luminescent 2 or 3 days after oviposition and remained luminescent until they hatched. Six predators of this firefly were recorded: wolf spiders (n = 2) (Lycosidae), an orb weaver spider (Argiopidae), a harvestman (Phalangida), a giant water bug (Belostomatidae) and a tree frog (Hyla sp.).






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