Atyphella lychnus Click to enlarge image
Blue Mountains Firefly, Atyphella lychnus (underside showing luminescant area) Image: Andrew Donnelly
Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    lychnus
    Genus
    Atyphella
    Subfamily
    Luciolinae
    Family
    Lampyridae
    Super Family
    Elateroidea
    Suborder
    Polyphaga
    Order
    Coleoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    25
  • Size Range
    6 mm - 9 mm

Of over 2,000 species of firefly beetles (family Lampyridae) worldwide, 25 are found in Australia.

Habitat

The Blue Mountains Firefly lives in rainforest.

Distribution

These fireflies are found from Sydney region to south-eastern Queensland. The Blue Mountains Firefly is the only firefly species in the Sydney area.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The fireflies' habit of producing a pulse of light from their abdomen when flying at night makes them particularly noticeable. They have been of interest to humans since ancient times. The first written records of fireflies are from China 2,500 years ago.

Life history cycle

Adult fireflies only live for a few days and do not feed (they have no mouthparts) but their larvae generally feed on snails. They hunt by following the slime trail to their prey, which is seized, injected with poison and eaten.

Breeding behaviours

The light helps members of the opposite sex find each other at night. Fireflies advertise their locations with flashes of light. Different species use specific sequences of flashes to attract mates of their own kind. When many individuals of some tropical species gather in bushes and trees, they synchronise their flashes into a spectacular light show that may also serve to confuse potential predators.