FLNPS Fireflies 101: Keep it moist and plant for slugs and snails


Tuesday, May 21, 2024 - 7:00pm




Cornell Botanic Gardens' Nevin Center, 124 Comstock Knoll Drive, Ithaca AND Zoom/Recording


Cole Gilbert, Professor of Insect Physiology, Department of Entomology, Cornell University


Fireflies are one of the joys of summer evenings in the Eastern United States. Their flashing communication illuminates moist woodlands and wet meadows, but our first firefly that is becoming abundant now does not flash. And although adult fireflies are well recognized, most folks have never seen a larva. In principle, however, they determine where you will find fireflies, because the larvae feed on slugs and snails. In this presentation, we’ll discuss general aspects of firefly biology from the flash communication system, to chemical protection they derive from eating their larval prey or non-discerning males of other species. Their relationship with plants is important for non-flashing species that overwinter on south facing hardwood trunks, and for species that communicate with flash dialogs that females emit while perched in the vegetation where mating takes place. We’ll focus on species native to the Finger Lakes Region and Cole will bring some pinned specimens, but we will also discuss synchronous flashing that individuals of some species do in other regions of the US and Southeast Asia.


The wonderful field guide handout from Cole Gilbert can be viewed and downloaded from here. It is designed to be folded - it originated as a magazine pull-out.

The video can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here, or below: