What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Males fly just after dusk and emit a series of controlled flashes from the light organs as part of the mating sequence; females also flash but have not been observed to fly with the males. Synchronised flashing, well known in some New Guinea species, has been observed in North Qld. Adults are not known to feed, but larvae prey on small land snails, which they paralyse using secretions produced by a pair of acinose glands at the anterior end of the alimentary canal and injected through the perforate mandibles; the prey is digested extraorally and the liquified tissues are imbibed. Larvae and pupae are also faintly luminous; the possible adaptive significance of larval luminescence has been discussed by Sivinski (1981). [Ballantyne 1968, 1987a, 1987b; Ballantyne and McLean 1970; Crowson 1972b.]


Elongate, somewhat flattened, soft-bodied beetles with very large eyes in male and with luminous organs (yellowish white in colour) on 5th (female) or 5th and 6th (male) ventrites. Head concealed by the explanate pronotum or partly exposed; antennae relatively short; mandibles small, curved, falcate and perforate; 4th tarsal segment bilobed; colour of pronotum primarily yellow, elytra dark brown, usually with basal, lateral and sutural edges yellow. In most species the elytra are simple and complete, but in some females they may be shortened, and in Pteroptyx males they are apically deflexed. Larvae elongate, tapered at both ends, somewhat flattened, dorsally sclerotised and variously marked, with small, retractable head bearing curved, perforate mandibles, and often with laterally expanded thoracic and abdominal terga. There is a luminous organ on segment 8, 9 is terminal, and 10 is reduced and bears a holdfast organ consisting of several eversible, asperate, tubular filaments.


The Australian lampyrid fauna is relatively poor, consisting of several species of Luciola (including Atyphella ), Pteroptyx cribellata and a Pyrophanes from North Qld. Lampyrids are restricted to the wetter areas along the eastern coast and are usually found in rainforests and mangrove flats.

  • Atephylla sp.