Basic Information

Considering how beloved fireflies are, very little information about their natural history is available to the general public. The papers listed below provide a basis of knowledge necessary for a successful firefly program.

Flash Communication in Fireflies

An overall view of the natural history of fireflies, including life cycle, courtship flashes, flash lantern biology, flash timing control, and flash mimicry.

Nitric Oxide and the Control of Firefly Flashing

Describes the method of light production and flash control in the firefly.

Flash Signal Evolution, Mate Choice, and Predation in Fireflies

Covers many aspects of firefly biology, such as the evolution of courtship signals, flash control, nuptial gifts, mate choice, chemical defenses, and more.

Phylogeny of North American Fireflies: Implications for the Evolution of Light Signals

Discusses the relationships of North American fireflies and the evolution of their flash signals.

Evolutionary Relationships

The evolutionary relationships of North American firefly genera and their method of mate attraction.

Studies of the Flash Communication System in Photinus Fireflies

An in-depth study of over 20 species of Photinus fireflies including their flash patterns and range maps.

North American Firefly Genera

A listing of the 16 North American firefly genera.

Notes on the Life History and Mating Behavior in Ellychnia corrusca

Describes the reproductive behavior of the daytime winter firefly Ellychnia corrusca.

For more information on fireflies, check out the FEATURED RESEARCH page at

Volunteer to share your observations of fireflies in your backyard — no special scientific training required.
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Observing fireflies is a great summer activity. Join our network of volunteers and track your sightings throughout the season.
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Pick a location, observe it weekly, and use our online tools to follow your progress.
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You might see more than one type of firefly in your yard. New England fireflies fall into three main groups, and they can be identified by flash color, pattern, and location. Check out the Virtual Habitat to see what fireflies might look like in action.

- Go to the Habitat