This is a cypress firefly (Photurius walldoxeyi), a newly discovered species that looks almost identical to other Photuris species in Indiana. The distinguishing characteristic is the male courtship flash. (Image by Luiz da Silveira, published in “Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs: Identification and Natural History of Fireflies of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada”)
This is a cypress firefly (Photurius walldoxeyi), a newly discovered species that looks almost identical to other Photuris species in Indiana. The distinguishing characteristic is the male courtship flash. (Image by Luiz da Silveira, published in “Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs: Identification and Natural History of Fireflies of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada”)
A small portion of wetlands in northern Monroe County is attracting not only a special species of firefly but also the biologists who study them.

Flashes of yellow-green light that lasts for only 5 to 7 seconds was all it took for Lynn Faust, author of “Fireflies, Glow-worms and Lightning Bugs” and an expert on the beetles, to identify the new species of firefly in Mississippi in 2017. That same flash pattern was seen at Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve in Monroe County in June 2018 by Indiana biologist Max Henschen — in an area no one expected that firefly would be.

Henschen had found the newly discovered firefly earlier that year in Twin Swamps Nature Preserve in southern Indiana and had been told by a friend that similar conditions could be found at the Monroe County nature preserve. After receiving permission from Sycamore Land Trust to visit the preserve after dark, he ventured along the boardwalk into the wetland area to look for fireflies.

After his first visit and discovery, Henschen visited the nature preserve a couple nights later to confirm the flash pattern was really from the new species. It was, so Henschen emailed Faust to let her know he’d found the firefly.

Faust gave the insect (Photurius walldoxeyi) the common name cypress firefly because it had been found only in swampland areas where cypress trees were growing. That is until the discovery at Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, which doesn’t have cypress trees and has no history of that specific tree.

Henschen’s find led Faust to travel from her home in Tennessee to Indiana to witness the unique flashes of the male fireflies for herself. Faust visited the nature preserve on June 15, first in the daylight to check out the habitat and again after dark to witness the fireflies in action.

The new species is one of about 20 types of fireflies found in Indiana. There are about 125 species of fireflies throughout North America, according to Faust. The best way to distinguish between the species is the flash patterns of the males, trying to attract a mate. The cypress firefly has a very unique flash pattern that’s done by the males within a few feet of the ground or water, always in a swampy area.
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