(Family Lampyridae)

firefly (Family Lampyridae)
Photo by Alfredo Colon

Lampyridae is the family that includes fireflies, also called glow worms or lightning bugs. There are about 2,200 described species worldwide, about 170 species in North America north of Mexico, and at least 19 species in Minnesota.

Most adults and all larvae produce light by an efficient chemical process that gives off almost no heat. In most species, flashing is the means by which the male, flashing in flight, finds a female of the same species, flashing on the ground.


Larvae prey on small insects, insect larvae, snails, and slugs. Adults of most species do not feed.


Adults are soft-bodied, elongated, and flattened. Most are brown or black with light markings. They have nearly parallel sides and rounded ends. The exoskeletal plate covering the thorax (pronotum) is nearly as wide at the base as the forewings (elytra). The front of the pronotum is extended forward and completely covers the head, though the head may be extended beyond it. The elytra are leathery and loosely cover the body. The last 2 or 3 abdominal segments are often luminescent. The last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has 5 segments.


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82.



Coleoptera (beetles)  


Polyphaga (water, rove, scarab, longhorn, leaf and snout beetles)  




Elateroidea (click beetles, fireflies and soldier beetles)  

Subordinate Taxa


Subfamily Amydetinae

Subfamily Cyphonocerinae

Subfamily Lampyrinae

Subfamily Luciolinae

Subfamily Ototretinae

Subfamily Photurinae

Subfamily Pterotinae






Common Names



glow worms

lightning bugs











The hardened or leathery forewings on an insect used to protect the fragile hindwings, which are used for flying, in beetles and true bugs. Singular: elytron.



The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.






Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon
  firefly (Family Lampyridae)   firefly (Family Lampyridae)
  firefly (Family Lampyridae)    Photos



  Family: Lampyridae
Bill Keim
  Family: Lampyridae  

Order: Coleoptera
Suborder: Polyphaga
Infraorder: elateriformia
Superfamily: Elateroidea
Family: Lampyridae

- Ellychnia corrusca (Winter Firefly)
- Lucidota atra (Black Firefly)
- Photinus (firefly)
- Photinus pyralis (Common Eastern Firefly)
- Photuris (firefly beetle)
- Pyractomena (firefly)
- Pyractomena borealis (firefly)




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Watch: Fireflies Glowing in Sync to Attract Mates | National Geographic
National Geographic

Sep 4, 2016

Each year in late spring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts a special light show, thanks to a species of beetle native to the region. These are the synchronous fireflies, known for coordinating their flashes into bursts that ripple through a group of the insects. As with other fireflies, their yellowish glow helps potential mates find one another.

  Meet the Lampyridae
Siouxsie Wiles

Dec 7, 2011

Learn a little about the amazing firefly and how it is helping scientists in the battle against some of the world's nastiest microbes.




Visitor Sightings

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Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

firefly (Family Lampyridae)






Created: 11/27/2020

Last Updated:

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