Featured Research

About Firefly Research

Despite worldwide curiosity about fireflies, there is little in the way of natural history books, field guides, or websites to teach us more about them. What does exist can be decades old, underscoring how important your work as a member of Firefly Watch is to updating our knowledge base.

Papers written by scientists are often the best source for learning about these fascinating insects. However, they are not always easy to find, and are often even harder to understand since they were written by and for scientists.

To help you learn more about fireflies and enjoy your Firefly Watch experience, we feature a different research paper every two months with a helpful summary and link to the full article.

Featured Paper

"Building Twilight 'Light Sensors' To Study the Effects of Light Pollution on Fireflies" by Anchana Thancharoen, Marc A. Branham, and James E. Lloyd The American Biology Teacher, Online Publication, February 2008.
Read the Summary

Previous Papers

"Shunning the Night to Elude the Hunter: Diurnal Fireflies and the ‘Femmes Fatales’" by Matthew Gronquist, Frank C. Schroeder, Helen Ghiradella, David Hill, Erin M. McCoy, Jerrold Meinwald, and Thomas Eisner. Chemoecology, 16: 39-43 (2006).
Read the Summary

"Reproductive Ecology of Two Species of Photinus Fireflies" by Sara M. Lewis and Ona T. Wang. Psyche, 98: 293-307 (1991).
Read the Summary

"The European Lesser Glow Worm, Phosphaenus hemipterus in North America" by Christopher G. Majka and J. Scott MacIvor. ZooKeys, 29:35-47 (2009).
Read the Summary

"Lek Assembly and Flash Synchrony in the Arizona Firefly Photinus knulli Green" by Joseph M. Cicero. The Coleopterists Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 4 (December 1983), pp. 318-342.
Read the Summary

"Ecology and Yearly Cycle of the Firefly Photuris pennsylvanica" by Ronald R. Keiper and Lynn M. Solomon. Journal of the New York Entomological Society, Vol. 80, No. 1 (March 1972), pp. 43-47.
Read the Summary

"Firefly Flashing and Jumping Spider Predation" by Skye M. Long, Sara Lewis, Leo Jean-Louis, George Ramos, Jamie Richmond, Elizabeth M. Jakob Animal Behavior 83 (2012), pp. 81-86
Read the Summary

"Notes on the Life History and Mating Behavior of Ellychnia corrusca" by Jennifer A. Rooney and Sara M. Lewis, Department of Biology, Tufts University, Medford, MA, Florida Entomologist, Vol. 83, No. 3, September 2000
Read the Summary

"Morphology and Behavior of Phausis reticulata (Blue Ghost Firefly)" by Jennifer Frick-Ruppert and Joshua J. Rosen, Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science, 124(4), 2008, pp.139-147
Read the Summary

"Female Monogamy and Male Competition in Photinus collustrans" by Steven R. Wing, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Psyche (1984), Vol. 91 (1-2): pp. 153-160.
Read the Summary

"Thieves in the Night: Kleptoparasitism by Fireflies in the Genus Photuris" by Lynn Faust, Raphaël De Cock, Sara Lewis, The Coleopterists Bulletin (2012), 66 (1): 1-6.
Read the Summary

"Female Preference for Male Courtship Flashes in Photinus ignitus Fireflies" by JChristopher K. Cratsley and Sara M. Lewis, Behavioral Ecology (2003), Vol. 14 (1): 135-140.
Read the Summary

"A Natural History of Pleotomodes needhami: A Firefly Symbiont of Ants" by John M. Sivinski; James E. Lloyd; Samuel N. Beshers; Lloyd R. Davis; Robert G. Sivinski and Steven R. Wing; Robert T. Sullivan and Paula E. Cushing; and Erik Petersson The Coleopterists Bulletin, 52(1), 1998, pp. 23-30.
Read the Summary

"Signals with Glows, Flashes and Pheromones" by Dr. James Lloyd, the Fireflyer Companion, Vol. 1, No. 3, Summer 1997, pp. 33-38.
Read the Summary

"Glow-worm Larvae Bioluminescence Operates as an Aposematic Signal Upon Toads" by Raphaël De Cock and Erik Matthysen, Behavioral Ecology, Vol. 14 No. 1, 103-108.
Read the Summary

"Natural History and Flash Repertoire of the Synchronous Firefly Photinus carolinus in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park" by Lynn Frierson Faust, Florida Entomologist, 2010.
Read the Summary

"Firefly 'Femmes Fatales' Acquire Defensive Steroids (Lucibufagins) from their Firefly Prey" by Thomas Eisner, Michael Goetz, David Hill, Scott Smedley and Jerrold Meinwald. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September, 1997
Read the Summary

"Biology of the Firefly Pyractomena lucifera" by Lawrence Buschman. Florida Entomologist, December, 1984
Read the Summary

"Search Paths of Fireflies in Two Dimensions" by Greg Adams. Florida Entomologist, March 1981
Read the Summary

"Phylogeny of North American Fireflies (Coleoptera:Lampyridae): Implications for the Evolution of Light Signals" by Kathrin F. Stanger-Hall, James E. Lloyd, and David M. Hillis, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, October 2007.
Read the Summary

"Degree-Day Prediction of Adult Emergence of Photinus carolinus" by Lynn Faust and Paul Weston, Environmental Entomology, October 2009.
Read the Summary

"Flight Studies on the Photic Communication by the Firefly Photinus pyralis" by James Case, Marine Science Institute, University of California Santa Barbara, Integrative Comparative Biology, June 2004.
Read the Summary

"Nuptial Gifts and Sexual Selection in Photinus Fireflies" by Sara Lewis, Christopher Cratsley, and Jennifer Rooney, Integrative and Comparative Biology, June 2004
Read the Summary

"Male Photuris Fireflies Mimic Sexual Signals of Their Female's Prey" by Dr. James Lloyd, University of Florida, Science Vol. 210, November 7, 1980.
Read the Summary

"Larval Biology and Ecology of Photuris Fireflies in Northcentral Florida" by Lawrent L. Buschman, Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 1984
Read the Summary

"Flashes of Photuris Fireflies: Their Value and Use in Recognition" by Dr. James Lloyd, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, 1969
Read the Summary

"Nitric Oxide and the Control of Firefly Flashing" by Barry A. Trimmer, et al., Science, June 29, 2001, Vol. 292, 2486 - 2488.
Read the Summary

"Photic Signaling in the Firefly Photinus greeni" by John Buck and Elisabeth Buck, The Biological Bulletin, The Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, April 1972
Read the Summary


When you join Firefly Watch, you're not only tracking firefly sightings in your yard; you're also helping local scientists with their research.
:: Read More
Observing fireflies is a great summer activity. Join our network of volunteers and track your sightings throughout the season.
:: Sign Up
On the discussion board, Firefly Watch members can ask questions and share tips. Sign up today and join the conversation.
:: Read More


Fireflies can't see blue light, so you can safely observe them using a blue flashlight.

- Get More Tips