"Femme Fatale" Firefly (Photuris sp.)

Pricing: Dead: (spread, as pictured) $30
Geographic Range: Eastern North America
View: Top View
Size: Length: 1-1.5cm

Availability Notes: Inquire about available species.

Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

Photuris is a genus of fireflies known for preying on other firefly species by mimicking their flashes. This trait is unique to this particular genus of fireflies and is not to be observed in any other animal species. The ability to mimic flash patterns is strongest in the Photuris females. Predation is done by responding to the flashes of heterospecific males who are out searching for a female of their species. By deceiving these males into approaching in the hopes of securing a mate, Photuris fireflies reel in a meal in much the same way that a fisherman tries to catch fish using an artificial lure. Some Photuris species are better at this than others and Photuris versicolor is known to mimic and prey on eleven different species of firefly. Some Photuris also use the flashing of their prey as a guide in aerial attacks. This ability to seize airborne prey is called “hawking.” Male and female Photuris will also hover around a female of a prey species who is flashing to attract mates. Those Photuris hovering near will then attack and devour any males attracted to her. Photuris will also prey on each other. All this is done so that Photuris can acquire lucibufagin, a poison it cannot produce on its own. By making itself toxic using the lucibufagin of its victims, it gains protection from its own set of predators. We do not sell live fireflies for release.