Fireflies and Lightning Bugs

winter firefly in macro shot photography
Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

Fireflies are members of the lampyridae family of insects, which is one of the largest in the insect kingdom. There are more than 2,000 species in the family, and most of them emit light. These light-emitting insects are also known as lightning bugs and fireflies, and many of them use their luminescence to attract mates.

Photuris bethaniensis

Photuris bethaniensis is one of the species of fireflies. It is part of the genus Photuris and is a common insect to encounter in the wild. This firefly is a beautiful, colorful species that can be found in a number of locations.

It was first described by Frank A. McDermott in 1953. While it is a relatively small firefly, it is active only after full darkness, a few hours later than other Photuris fireflies. Its larvae feed on soft-bodied invertebrates, which are essential to the balance of ecosystems.

The firefly’s double-green flash makes it an extremely distinctive species. Although this species is rare, it is not uncommon to see them in Delaware. There are seven known sites that host the insect. The habitats are found in interdunal swales, which are rare freshwater wetlands located between sand dunes.

Photuris bethaniensis is a new species of lampyrid fireflies. The new species was described in the Proceedings of the U.S.National Museum. While this species is not a serious threat to humans, it is still under threat from habitat loss and fragmentation. Listed as an emergency species, this species would receive the protection it needs to avoid extinction. The species’ future is at stake, so listing it as an ESA is crucial.

The Xerces Society and Center for Biological Diversity recently submitted a petition to list the Bethany Beach firefly as an endangered species. Their petition outlined that the firefly is facing an immediate threat from habitat destruction and pesticide use. The petition also called for a concurrent designation for critical habitat. If listed, the firefly will become the first firefly protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Historical collection sites are no longer home to the species. The location where the highest density of mature individuals was found has since been destroyed by housing developments. In addition, sea level rise has caused further losses to sites in the species’ range. As a result, the population of mature individuals is expected to decrease.

Pyractomena bethaniensis

Pyractomena bethaniensis is a member of the firefly genus. The larvae live in moist habitats and prey on soft-bodied invertebrates. Though most species are terrestrial, Eastern North American species live on aquatic vegetation. The larvae use a holdfast organ to grab a variety of surfaces and anchor on aquatic vegetation. They can also wrestle aquatic snails from the water.

This species is primarily found in coastal interdunal swale habitats along about 25 kilometers of shoreline in Sussex County, Delaware. Its habitat is declining as a result of several threats, including coastal development. Furthermore, sea level rise will affect all sites within its current distribution area within a century.

Photinus bethaniensis

This unique firefly is the smallest in the genus Photinus. It is found only in freshwater intertidal dune swales near Bethany Beach, Delaware. Before its discovery, this species was unknown. There are 11 species of fireflies in Delaware. The largest is Photinus pyralus, which has a charcoal gray body. The smaller species, Photinus bethaniensis, is brown in color and has a different flash pattern.

This firefly is considered critically endangered because of its restricted distribution. Only a small number of specimens are known to exist. The species is vulnerable due to loss of habitat resulting from coastal development and other human activities. As a result, this species is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Pyractomena pyracantha

This shrub is a popular choice for gardens and landscapes in South Carolina. It is an evergreen shrub with glossy, white flowers and evergreen foliage. It can grow up to 12 feet tall and five to eight feet wide, and is a very versatile plant. It thrives in full sun and moderate water. It has a vigorous growth habit and can be trained into espaliers.

There are several species of Pyractomena, and their distribution is widely varied. However, many are highly vulnerable to habitat disturbance. Burning of shrub lands, development of mesic habitats, and light pollution have all affected their distribution. While most species are widespread, some populations are confined to a small range.

Pyracantha is an evergreen shrub with glossy, green leaves that are 1/2 to one inch wide and up to four inches long. The plant bears flowers in spring and berries on spurs on the wood from last year’s growth. The flowers are small and have a slight odor, but the plant’s berries are the main attraction. These berries are red and hang on branches until late winter.

The larvae of this plant feed on buds, fruit, and leaves of the plant. They can feed on a variety of plant species, including apple, pear, and blackberries. The plant can tolerate both partial and full shade, and is ideal for shrub borders, foundation plantings, and barrier hedges. It is native to central China, the Himalayas, and southeastern Europe.

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