Photuris versicolor

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Photuris versicolor
Scientific classification
P. versicolor
Binomial name
Photuris versicolor
Fabricius, 1798

Photuris versicolor, is a species complex of firefly common throughout the Eastern United States. Fireflies famously use flash-based visual signalling to find mates at a distance and each species of firefly has a unique flash pattern sequence that males and females of the same species use to identify one another.[1] Researchers have documented the ability of female P. versicolor to hunt males of other firefly species by mimicking the flash responses of female fireflies of other species. Photuris versicolor appear to target males, such as Photinus pyralis, specifically for the lucibufagin steroids that their prey produce.[2]


Photuris versicolor are large members of the Lampyridae family, approximately 20–50 mm in length. P. versicolor are strong fliers with excellent eye sight, which is especially sensitive to light in the near UV (380 nm) and green (550 nm) spectra.[3] Although male and female adults both have luminescence, this species is strongly sexually dimorphic. Females are larger bodied with a larger flash organ than males.[4]


Virgin P. versicolor females respond to the triple flash mating signal of P. versicolor males prior to mating. However, sometime after mating, P. versicolor females become unresponsive to conspecific males and begin using flash signalling in hunting.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lloyd, James E. "Flashes of Photuris Fireflies: Their Value and Use in Recognizing Species". The Florida Entomologist. 52 (1): 29–35. doi:10.2307/3493705.
  2. ^ Eisner, Thomas; Goetz, Michael A.; Hill, David E.; Smedley, Scott R.; Meinwald, Jerrold. "Firefly "femmes fatales" acquire defensive steroids (lucibufagins) from their firefly prey". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 94 (18): 9723–9728. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.18.9723. PMC 23257.
  3. ^ Lall, Abner B. (1981). "Electroretinogram and the spectral sensitivity of the compound eyes in the firefly Photuris versicolor (Coleoptera-Lampyridae): A correspondence between green sensitivity and species bioluminescence emission". Journal of Insect Physiology. 27 (7): 461–468. doi:10.1016/0022-1910(81)90097-4.
  4. ^ Sharp, Kelly. "Photuris versicolor". Animal Diversity. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  5. ^ Zorn, Jr., Leroy P.; Carlson, Albert D. "Effect of mating on response of female Photuris firefly". Animal Behaviour. 26 (3): 843–847. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(78)90149-5.