A natural history of Pleotomodes needhami Green (coleoptera: lampyridae): A firefly symbiont of ants

John M. Sivinski, James E. Lloyd, Samuel N. Beshers, Lloyd R. Davis, Robert G. Sivinski, Steven R. Wing, Robert T. Sullivan, Paula E. Cushing, Erik Petersson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A firefly, Pleotomodes needhami Green, lives in the nests of two, possibly three, species of ants. These ants are the fungus-growing Trachymrmex septentrionalis (McCook), the carnivorous Odontomachus clarus (Roger), and perhaps a Dorymyrmex sp. All known specimens of P. needhami have been collected on the grounds of the Archbold Biological Station, Highlands County, Florida. Larvae, pupae, and adults of both sexes were excavated from the brood-queen-fungal chambers of T. septentrionalis. Ants appeared to ignore the fireflies, and the fireflies were not seen to feed on ants or their brood. Larvae in captivity consumed snails on the soil surface at night and a single larva was captured on the surface in the field. Pupation begins in late March and the earliest collections of adults took place in the first half of April. Neotenous females emerge from ant colonies soon after dark and emit light while waiting near the nest entrance. Males luminesce in the presence of females. Larvae also produce light, both on the surface and underground in ant colonies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalColeopterists Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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