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Firefly/Lightning Beetle
(Tim Gibb, Purdue University)
Common Name: Firefly/Lightning Beetle

Order: Coleoptera

Family: Lampyridae

Pest Status: Lightning beetles are not pests.

Appearance: Most adult lightning beetles are long (1/2-inch) and narrow, with a black head; a red section behind the head with dark markings; and flexible, dark-brown wing covers edged with yellow. Their most notable feature is the underside of the abdomen: the last few segments are colored green-yellow, forming a "tail light."

Life Cycle: Winter is spent in the larval stage in chambers formed in the soil. They pupate in the spring and emerge as adults in late spring or early summer. The life cycle of most species extends for two years. Lightning beetles are predators.

Where to Collect: Many species can be found in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where their larvae have abundant sources of food. Adults are active at night and can easily be collected with a net following their distinctive flash.