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Firefly Species at Risk

A dark forest filled with ferns, downed trees, rocks, and lush underbrush, is filled with bright dashes of yellow in this long-exposure shot of fireflies at night.
(Photo: Radim Schreiber, fireflyexperience.org)

Fireflies are some of our most cherished and celebrated insects, dazzling us with their beautiful light displays and playing important roles in human medicine, technology, and culture. Ecologically, they are significant predators in local food webs and serve as prey to other animals.

In the wake of mounting anecdotal evidence of their decline, the global research community is taking note. Here at Xerces, we are tackling firefly conservation on all fronts—by focusing on species whose life history traits make them more vulnerable to extinction, but also working to keep common species common.

Some of the key threats thought to be affecting firefly populations include habitat loss and degradation, light pollution, pesticide use, and climate change-induced drought. By working with land managers, researchers, and community scientists, we aim to assess the conservation status of fireflies, protect and restore known habitat, and conduct research to fill in knowledge gaps surrounding their diverse life histories, population trends, and responses to threats.

 

Featured at-Risk Species

Bethany Beach firefly

Photuris bethaniensis

The Bethany Beach firefly is associated with threatened interdunal wetlands that occur along Delaware’s Atlantic coast. This dark-active firefly has a distinctive double green flash.

  • Geographic range: Known from only seven locations along a 25-km stretch of Delaware’s Atlantic coast. 
  • IUCN status: Not yet assessed.
  • U.S. Endangered Species Act status: Petitioned.
  • Learn more: View ESA petition here; view blog post on the same topic here.


Florida intertidal firefly

Micronaspis floridana

This medium-sized, flashing firefly occurs in salt marshes and mangroves. It is threatened by coastal development, light pollution, agricultural activities, and pesticides. Mangroves are among the most endangered habitats in Florida, and many have already been decimated, potentially leading to the decline of this species. Hurricanes may also pose a threat. Several populations in Florida now appear to be locally extinct. 

  • Geographic range: The Florida intertidal firefly occurs along the Florida coast and on some northern islands of the Bahamas.
  • IUCN status: Not yet assessed.
  • U.S. Endangered Species Act status: Not listed.


Mystic lantern firefly

Photuris mysticalampas

Another rare species from Delaware, the mystic lantern is associated with high quality forested peatland floodplains.

  • Geographic range: Known from a single county in Delaware, but suspected to occur in similar habitat in Maryland.
  • IUCN status: Not yet assessed.
  • U.S. Endangered Species Act status: Not listed.

 

We also invite you to view our list of species profiles for endangered beetles (includes, but is not limited to, fireflies).

Learn More