Firefly – Photinus sp. – also known as Lightningbug and Firefly Beetle.
Day Lily – Hemerocallis.
Identified by the black elytra and the yellowish pronotum with a red patch and a dark black spot, during the day. At night, of course, they are easily identified because they fly around and light up their abdomen.
The term “Firefly” or “Lightningbug” is actually the name given to the “Family” of beetles that share common characteristics like light-emitting organs in their abdomen and large pronotums. Breaking fireflies down further by biologial classification to genus or even species (like we do with other creatures, notably birds), is not possible for the amateur aided by only the naked eye. According to the Iowa State University Department of Entomology, there are over 124 species of firefly in the US and Canada (the species being the primary unit of biological classification or taxonomy – species members can interbreed and produce viable or fertile offspring). Thus, the term “Firefly” refers to at least 124 different beetles. Fireflies illuminate their abdomens to attract a mate. Because fireflies of different genus and species resemble each other so closely, different firefly species use different rhythms while flashing to attract the correct mate. “Each species has a distinctive pattern of flashes, varying in flash number, duration, interval between flashes, motion accomplished during the flash, height of the flash above ground and so forth. The males and females recognize their own species’ flash and get together as a result of the illumination.”
Fireflies are closely related to Soldier Beetles (like this Leatherwing) as they are in the same Superfamily. Fireflies can be distinguished from Soldier Beetles, however, because the Firefly’s “hood,” or pronotum, completely conceals the Firefly’s head when observed from above, while a Solider Beetle’s head sticks out clearly from behind the pronotum. And Soldier Beetles do not illuminate themselves at night, of course.
Photo taken with the Canon Digital Rebel XT / 350D and a Sigma 70-300mm Lens on July 2, 2008, in Davenport, Iowa.
September 2, 2008: NowPublic has used this photo in an article on the disappearance of fireflies!