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Big Dipper Firefly

The Big Dipper Firefly is one of the common sights of the American summer - and a childhood memory to many.

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Image Credit: Arch B. of Georgia.
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Image Credit: Arch B. of Georgia.
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Image Credit: Arch B. of Georgia.
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Image Credit: Arch B. of Georgia.
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Image Credit: Arch B. of Georgia.
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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Lampyridae
Genus: Photinus
Species: pyralis
A favorite summertime insect in the eastern part of the U.S., fireflies are friendly beetles that illuminate the night with pulses of light. Bioluminescence is uncommon in the animal kingdom, so it is quite special to be able to observe it. The Big Dipper Firefly lights up and flies up and away while the light fades, making a curved streak in the dark. The belly of the firefly is the part that glows, and more remarkably, the light emits no heat so the insect never worries it will overheat.

The Big Dipper has black wing coverings, called elytra, which are rimmed with yellow all around the sides and bottom. The yellow pronotum is round by the head and has a red patch with a black middle in the center of it. It can be gently captured and admired up close, but its natural instinct drives it to walk upward from a hand in order to fly away. Keep watch at sunset in areas near trees. A firefly, or lightning bug as it is also called, stops giving away its location once night sets in. By then, it retreats to the tops of trees to reproduce. Releasing captured fireflies allows them to mate and make more fireflies for the next year.©BeetleIdentification.org

The Big Dipper Firefly is also known by the name(s) of: Lightning bug; Common Eastern Firefly; Pyralis Firefly. The Big Dipper Firefly is typically 0.3 inches to 0.5 inches (9mm to 15mm) in size and has the following descriptors / identifiers: black; yellow; orange; red; striped; banded; winged; flying; summer; glowing; flashing.

Color Identification Guide

Various colors commonly associated with this beetle.


Beetle Anatomy

Territorial Area Map (Visual Reference Guide)

The map below showcases (in blue) the states and territories of North America where the Big Dipper Firefly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.
Prince Edward Is.  
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Similar Beetles

Similar beetles to the Big Dipper Firefly that are associated with or commonly mistaken for...

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