Sunday, June 20, 2010

Missing the merry month of May, Part II

Click beetles.

Unlike the click beetles of temperate climates, where the larvae -- wire worms -- do so much damage to root crops, these beetles are beneficial. But the best thing is that they're bioluminescent.

Pyrophorus noctilucus is found throughout Central American, the Caribbean, and South Florida, it's northernmost range. It's not a firefly. (Fireflies are now rare in urban South Florida, although you can find plenty in the Everglades.) It prefers places of fairly dense vegetation to light up, although I also find them on the wall under an outside light -- as in my very poor photos.

Click beetles, which get their name from the loud "click" they make as they right themselves from an upside down position, have two neon-green luminous "eyes" on their backs, or, technically, the pronotum. In May, you find them glowing under vegetation. When they fly, though, they expose another glowing spot on the abdomen that glows steadily in flight; unlike their distant firefly cousins, they don't "flash."

Before the hurricanes of 2005 destroyed my hammock, I used to lie out in the evening and watch them glide past; it was such a treat. This past May was horrendously hot and humid, and the skies were filled with too many skeeters to make it any fun.

I found some much better photos on this site.

And if you're looking for an excuse to come here, make it to see these unique beetles in the merry month of May!


Kimberly said...

Yes, it's been terribly hot and humid...with lots of mosquitoes! I visited a botanic garden yesterday and couldn't even enjoy myself much due to the skeeters and humidity. Oh well. I like it better than the cold! :)

Penny McCrea said...

Hey, Kimberly. Give me the cold!

James Missier said...

click bettles - now that's something new I never heard of.

Penny McCrea said...

Hi, James. Don't you have some of the most spectacular fireflies, though?