Pennsylvania State Insect
Pennsylvania Firefly (common name)
Photuris pennsylvanica (scientific name)
The firefly, or "lightning bug," is actually a beetle, not a fly. The insect has a long, flat body, large eyes, and a pale yellowish head with a black spot and a red ring encircling it. The wings are brownish-gray with yellow edges and a pale band running down the middle. Fireflies also have a pair of long thread-like antennae.
The Pennsylvania firefly was designated the official state insect of Pennsylvania in 1974 in response to a petition by the third-graders of Highland Park Elementary School in suburban Philadelphia. Some Pennsylvania citizens confused their state insect with the black fly, so the Pennsylvania General Assembly rewrote the law in 1987 specifying the subspecies of the state insect by its Latin name,Photuris pennsylvanica.
Wing span: 0.3 inch (0. 8 cm)
Total Length: 0.75 inch (2 cm)
Larvae: Both eggs and larvae of the firefly exhibit the phenomenon of bioluminescence and are often called "glow worms." The larvae hatch from eggs after about two weeks.
Forests, fields, and the margins between them close to ponds, marshes, or shallow depressions with water.
Range: Every continent except Antarctica
Flight period: Mainly spring and summer, when thousands of males can be seen flying over fields, marshes and grasslands, flashing their green or yellow lights.
Conservation status: Least concern
The luminescent insect is nocturnal and has special organs in its last abdominal segment that produce short, rhythmic flashes of light while it is in flight. The male glows every five seconds, and the females flash every two seconds.
The luminescence serves as a defense mechanism against predators and also serves as a signal for mating. The females exhibit an interesting predatory behavior whereby they mimic the female responses of other firefly species in the area and dupe the males of the mimicked species. When the tricked male alights nearby for mating, they are devoured by the female, which obtains both food and certain defensive chemicals from the prey.
Adults: They feed primarily on aphids, earthworms, mites, snails, slugs and other soft-bodied insects and their larvae. While basically carnivorous, they will occasionally drink nectar as well.
Larvae: Snails, slugs, worms, and insects
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|Author: World Trade Press|