Lucidota atra, the black firefly.  New York.

Lucidota atra, the black firefly. New York.

Not all fireflies luminesce.  Lucidota atra is a day-flying species, common in eastern North America, with vestigial light-producing organs.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS D60

ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/13, flash diffused through tracing paper


  1. #1 Ant
    March 13, 2009

    I didn’t know NY had fireflies. I used to live in PA back in the mid 80s as a kid. I caught them, but they died overnight. I didn’t know what to feed them and stuff. I was mean and loved to step on them to see their glow blood. 🙁

  2. #2 Aydin
    March 13, 2009

    “vestigial light-producing organs”, that’s very interesting.

  3. #3 jewishscientist
    March 14, 2009

    I grew up in Queens, NY… and yup, even in the city there were plenty of them.

    It’d be neat to look and measure how well the vestigial light-producing organs are supplied with tracheae. I’d predict much less so than in sister species that haven’t given up their glow, but it’d be nice to know.

  4. #4 Eric R. Eaton
    March 17, 2009

    Thanks for posting this, Alex. I’m working (slowly) on a book about fireflies in nature and human culture for a general audience. It is a popular myth that all fireflies glow, and another popular myth that there are no fireflies west of the Rockies. I grew up in Oregon, and our most common fireflies, in the genus Ellychnia are likewise day-active and non-luminescent. Keep up the great work!

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