Thursday, January 19, 2017

A new firefly: Araucariocladus hiems

Fireflies or sometimes named lightning bugs are no flies. They represent a family of beetles (Lampyridae) whose members have the ability to use bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates or prey. They produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale red. So far about 2000 firefly species have been found and described.

The latest addition was found in the rain forests of Brazil. Both the genus and the species name are new.  The genus name Araucariocladus was derived from Araucaria, the genus name of the Brazilian pine, and cladus, which is Greek for division, referring to characteristic antennal branches. The species name was derived from the Latin word for winter because remarkably the species occurs during the subtropical winter of the Southeastern Atlantic Rainforest.

For the experts: Here we describe Araucariocladus hiems gen. et sp. nov. (Lampyridae: Amydetinae), a firefly species endemic to high montane forests, and occurring during June, a relatively cool and dry month in the Southeastern Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil. We tentatively place it in Psilocladina McDermott, and discuss the limitations of its classification. We also provide illustrations of key structural features of the new taxa and discuss its affinities.

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