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Fire Beetles (Pyrophorus)

The fire beetles belong to the family of click beetles. They are bioluminescent species known for their capability to generate light, similar to fireflies.

Fire Beetles

List of Species Belonging to this Genus

  • Headlight beetle (Pyrophorus nyctophanus)
  • Headlight elater (Pyrophorus noctilucus) 
  • Pyrophorus angustus 
  • Pyrophorus avunculus 
  • Pyrophorus canaliculatus 
  • Pyrophorus carinatus 
  • Pyrophorus clarus 
  • Pyrophorus cucujus 
  • Pyrophorus dulcifer 
  • Pyrophorus evexus 
  • Pyrophorus expeditus 
  • Pyrophorus foveolatus 
  • Pyrophorus ignigenus 
  • Pyrophorus indistinctus 
  • Pyrophorus indulcatus 
  • Pyrophorus ingens 
  • Pyrophorus jocundus 
  • Pyrophorus limbatus 
  • Pyrophorus lucidus 
  • Pyrophorus lucifer 
  • Pyrophorus magnus 
  • Pyrophorus melitus 
  • Pyrophorus mellifluus 
  • Pyrophorus mutatus 
  • Pyrophorus nigropunctatus 
  • Pyrophorus phosphorescens 
  • Pyrophorus pisticus 
  • Pyrophorus plagiophthalmus 
  • Pyrophorus punctatissimus 
  • Pyrophorus pyropoecilus 
  • Pyrophorus strabus 
  • Pyrophorus stupendus 
  • Pyrophorus tuberculifer 
  • Pyrophorus validus 
  • Pyrophorus veriloquus 
Fire Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult 

Size: 0.79-1.57 in (2-4 cm)

Color: They are a brownish color.

Other Characteristic Features: They are bioluminescent, emitting light from two spots on their protonum as well as another on their ventral abdomen. Unlike fireflies, they do not flash their naturally generated light but can raise the brightness if needed.

Pyrophorus

Larva

The larvae are also luminous, emitting light to attract prey and discourage predators.

Pupa

Pupation can take place several years after the larva hatch.

Egg

Even the eggs are luminous. After mating, the females lay them on or under the soil.

Quick Facts

Lifespan4-5 months
DistributionParts of the Americas such as Brazil, Cuba, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas
HabitatSubtropical, temperate and tropical forests
PredatorsBats, ground beetles, insectivorous birds, lizards, moles, shrews, spiders, and toads
Seasons activeSummer
HostsVarious plant material
Diet of adultsPollen, insects like aphids or scale insects
Fire Beetle Picture

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

The beetles cause no identifiable damage.

Fire Beetle Image

Did You Know

  • German entomologist Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger first coined this genus in 1809.

The fire beetles belong to the family of click beetles. They are bioluminescent species known for their capability to generate light, similar to fireflies.

Fire Beetles

List of Species Belonging to this Genus

  • Headlight beetle (Pyrophorus nyctophanus)
  • Headlight elater (Pyrophorus noctilucus) 
  • Pyrophorus angustus 
  • Pyrophorus avunculus 
  • Pyrophorus canaliculatus 
  • Pyrophorus carinatus 
  • Pyrophorus clarus 
  • Pyrophorus cucujus 
  • Pyrophorus dulcifer 
  • Pyrophorus evexus 
  • Pyrophorus expeditus 
  • Pyrophorus foveolatus 
  • Pyrophorus ignigenus 
  • Pyrophorus indistinctus 
  • Pyrophorus indulcatus 
  • Pyrophorus ingens 
  • Pyrophorus jocundus 
  • Pyrophorus limbatus 
  • Pyrophorus lucidus 
  • Pyrophorus lucifer 
  • Pyrophorus magnus 
  • Pyrophorus melitus 
  • Pyrophorus mellifluus 
  • Pyrophorus mutatus 
  • Pyrophorus nigropunctatus 
  • Pyrophorus phosphorescens 
  • Pyrophorus pisticus 
  • Pyrophorus plagiophthalmus 
  • Pyrophorus punctatissimus 
  • Pyrophorus pyropoecilus 
  • Pyrophorus strabus 
  • Pyrophorus stupendus 
  • Pyrophorus tuberculifer 
  • Pyrophorus validus 
  • Pyrophorus veriloquus 
Fire Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult 

Size: 0.79-1.57 in (2-4 cm)

Color: They are a brownish color.

Other Characteristic Features: They are bioluminescent, emitting light from two spots on their protonum as well as another on their ventral abdomen. Unlike fireflies, they do not flash their naturally generated light but can raise the brightness if needed.

Pyrophorus

Larva

The larvae are also luminous, emitting light to attract prey and discourage predators.

Pupa

Pupation can take place several years after the larva hatch.

Egg

Even the eggs are luminous. After mating, the females lay them on or under the soil.

Quick Facts

Lifespan4-5 months
DistributionParts of the Americas such as Brazil, Cuba, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas
HabitatSubtropical, temperate and tropical forests
PredatorsBats, ground beetles, insectivorous birds, lizards, moles, shrews, spiders, and toads
Seasons activeSummer
HostsVarious plant material
Diet of adultsPollen, insects like aphids or scale insects
Fire Beetle Picture

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

The beetles cause no identifiable damage.

Fire Beetle Image

Did You Know

  • German entomologist Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger first coined this genus in 1809.

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