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Photinus (beetle)

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Title: Photinus (beetle)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Photinus pyralis, Illegitimate receiver, Lampyridae, Aggressive mimicry, Firefly
Collection: Lampyridae
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Photinus (beetle)

Rover fireflies
Adult specimens of an unidentified Photinus sp.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Lampyridae
Subfamily: Lampyrinae
Tribe: Photinini
Genus: Photinus
Laporte, 1833

Numerous, see text

The rover fireflies (Photinus) are a genus of fireflies (family Lampyridae). They are the type genus of tribe Photinini in subfamily Lampyrinae. This genus contains, for example, the common eastern firefly (P. pyralis), the state insect of Tennessee.

Male Photinus beetles emit a flashing light pattern to signal for females. Illegitimate receivers, such as female Photuris beetles, identify these signals and use them to locate the male Photinus, attract them with deceptive signals, and eat them.


  • Systematics 1
    • Selected species 1.1
  • References 2
  • Further reading 3


The closest living relative of the rover fireflies is not yet determined with certainty. In morphology, they resemble their predators, the Photurinae, but they are quite certainly not at all closely related as fireflies go. Rather, the genus Ellychnia is either the closest relative of Photinus, or might even be included in it. Ellychnia are notable for having lost the ability to produce light again, and like the ancestors of all fireflies, communicate with pheromones only. It might thus be warranted to remove some species from Photinus and assign them different genera.[1]

The genus Pyropyga is also a close relative, though it is certainly not as close as Ellychnia. This group makes up the core of the tribe Photinini, and in fact it seems warranted to restrict the tribe to these genera, but more research is still needed, in particular with regard to Photinus and Ellychnia, as the relationship of their type species ("Photinus pallens" and Ellychnia corrusca) remains completely unknown, with the latter also suspected to be a cryptic species complex. Tropical species of Photinus are also not well studied.[1]

Selected species


  1. ^ a b Stanger-Hall et al. (2007)
  2. ^ a b Green, John Wagener (1956). "Revision of the Nearctic species of Photinus (Lampyridae: Coleoptera)". Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., San Francisco 28: 561–613. 
  3. ^ Buck, 1947"Photinus harveyi". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  4. ^ Originally described as Lampyris pullens, a nomen oblitum

Further reading

  • Stanger-Hall, Kathrin F.; Lloyd, James E. & Hillis, David M. (2007): Phylogeny of North American fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae): Implications for the evolution of light signals. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 45(1): 33-49. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.05.013 PMID 17644427 PDF fulltext
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