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Photuris pensylvanica

photuris pensylvanica
Photuris pennsylvanica
Photuris pensylvanicus
Photuris pennsylvanicus

Photuris pensylvanica, known by the common names Pennsylvania firefly, lightning bug,2 and in its larval state glowworm,3 is a species of firefly from the United States and Canada23 It is also widely known under the Latin name Photuris pennsylvanica, although the original spelling,1 with one "n", was common in Latinized names of the time and remains the valid name


  • 1 Description
  • 2 State insect
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References


P pensylvanica is a somewhat flattened beetle 11 millimetres 043 in to 15 millimetres 059 in in length4 Its primary color is black, but it has two bright red eyespots on its thorax, as well as yellow edging on its thorax and wing cases and usually a lengthwise yellow stripe partway down the center of each of the latter The species is carnivorous, feeding mostly on insects but also on other invertebrates, such as land snails and earthworms The terminal segments of its abdomen are white-yellow and glow greenish-yellow when the insect manifests its bioluminescence The females of this species, like those of other members of the genus, lure males of other species by imitating their flash patterns in order to prey on them5

State insectedit

In 1974, P pensylvanica was designated the state insect of Pennsylvania2 Its designation as such started with a group of Highland Park Elementary School students in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania6 Fireflies are abundant in Pennsylvania and are enjoyed for their ability to "transform a midsummer night into a fairyland of tiny, brilliant twinkling lights"2 Discovering that there was a species of firefly named after their state and that no other US state had adopted a firefly as its state insect, the students began their campaign to have P pensylvanica made Pennsylvania's state insect26

With advice and support from state legislators, the students began a campaign that included letter writing, the circulation of petitions, and the distribution of bumper stickers On April 10, 1974, Governor Milton J Shapp signed Act 59 into law, making the Pennsylvania firefly their state's official insect A few years later, Highland Park Elementary School was presented with a bronze plaque in honor of the students' achievement6

Many Pennsylvanians know these insects by the name "lightning bugs" and may have confused "firefly" with "black fly" when that state was plagued by them in 1988citation needed This might be why that year the legislature again confirmed the Pennsylvania firefly's official status and specified it by scientific name The amended act reads:

Section 1 The firefly Lampyridae Coleoptera of the species Photuris pensylvanica De Geer is hereby selected, designated and adopted as the official insect of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

1 amended Dec 5, 1988, PL1101, No1307

The firefly is also the state insect of Tennessee, but in this case the specific species referred to if any may be Photinus pyralis, the most common species of firefly in North America8

One-second exposure of fireflies flashing in a field in Indiana County, Pennsylvania

See alsoedit

  • List of US state insects


  1. ^ a b De Geer, Charles 1774 Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire des insectes, vol 4 Stockholm: Grefing & Hesselberg pp 52–53 Retrieved 18 November 2014 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Pennsylvania State Insect - Firefly" Statesymbolsusaorg Retrieved 2012-02-15 
  3. ^ a b "NatureServe Explorer Species Index: Genus Photuris" Webarchiveorg Archived from the original on September 3, 2008 Retrieved 2012-02-15 
  4. ^ Williams, Francis X March 1917 "Notes on the Life-History of Some North American Lampyridæ" J NY Entomol Soc 25 1: 11–33 
  5. ^ Lloyd, James E 6 August 1965 "Aggressive Mimicry in Photuris: Firefly Femmes Fatales" Science 149 3684: 653–654 doi:101126/science1493684653 
  6. ^ a b c "Pennsylvania: The Keystone State" Burgercom Retrieved 2012-02-15 
  7. ^ "State Insect" Pennsylvania General Assembly Retrieved 2014-11-16 
  8. ^ "Tennessee State Insect - Firefly" Statesymbolsusaorg Retrieved 2012-02-15 

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Photuris pensylvanica

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