Phausis reticulata

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Phausis reticulata
Phausis Kentucky dorsal.jpg
Blue ghost firefly, Phausis reticulata (Say, 1825), from eastern Kentucky
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Lampyridae
Subfamily: Lamprohizinae
Genus: Phausis
P. reticulata
Binomial name
Phausis reticulata
(Say, 1825)

Phausis reticulata, commonly referred to as the Blue Ghost[1], is a species of firefly found in the eastern and central United States. The species is common in the southern Appalachians, and can be seen in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Chattahoochee National Forest, as well as North Carolina's DuPont State Forest, the Pisgah National Forest, and the Green River Gamelands[2][3] in Henderson and Polk Counties.


The males of this all-brown species have a short second antennomere (compared to the third) as well as large eyes.[4] Unlike many firefly species found in the eastern and central United States, P. reticulata males display a steady glow, instead of a species-specific flashing pattern.[5] The light emitted by "blue ghost" fireflies appears to the human eye as blueish-white when observed at night from a distance, but bright green when examined at close range.[6] This discrepancy in the observed color may be due to the Purkinje effect.[7]

Female blue ghosts are wingless, unable to fly, and are paedomorphic, remaining in larval form through adulthood.[6]


The blue ghost fireflies’ ideal conditions for mating season include warm and moist forest areas that are surrounded by spongy leaf litter. The male fireflies fly a few feet off the ground, spotting glowing females.[6]

Blue ghost firefly, Phausis reticulata (Say, 1825), from eastern Kentucky
Blue ghost firefly, Phausis reticulata (Say, 1825), from eastern Kentucky


  1. ^
  2. ^ Detailed map of Green River Gamelands
  3. ^ NC Wildlife Resources Commission pdf map of Green River Gamelands
  4. ^ Fender, K.M. 1966. The genus Phausis in America north of Mexico (Coleoptera-Lampyridae). Northwest Science 40: 83-95.
  5. ^ Capinera, John L. (2008). Encyclopedia of entomology. vol 3. University of Florida. ISBN 1-4020-6360-1, ISBN 978-1-4020-6360-2.
  6. ^ a b c Frick-Ruppert, Jennifer E.; Rosen, Joshua J. (2008). "Morphology and behavior of Phausis reticulata (Blue Ghost Firefly)". Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science. 124 (4): 139–47.
  7. ^ Branchini, Bruce R.; Southworth, Tara L.; Salituro, Leah J.; Fontaine, Danielle M.; Oba, Yuichi (2017). "Cloning of the Blue Ghost (Phausis reticulata) luciferase reveals a glowing source of green light". Photochemistry and Photobiology. 93 (2): 473–478. doi:10.1111/php.12649. PMID 27696431.

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