New species of firefly found in California - Tucson News Now

New species of firefly found in California

(Photo: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr) (Photo: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr)

One thing that I have noticed since making the move from the midwest to the desert southwest is the lack of insects here compared to back east.  While that is generally a good thing, there are some insects that you expect to see certain times of the year and grow to like.  During the summer months, fireflies (also known as lightning bugs) provide a neat light show after dark in the midwest.  While you won't find a whole lot of them west of the Rocky Mountains, there are some species found in the west.  

Recently, a new species was discovered in southern California by an undergraduate student at the University of California-Riverside by the name of Joshua Oliva.  Oliva discovered the new species while collecting insects in the Santa Monica Mountains for his entomology class.   The new species of firefly is only about half a centimeter long.  The firefly has a very small luminescent organ located on the tip of its tail.  Here is a picture of the new insect, courtesy of Mr. Oliva.

 

Doug Yanega, the senior scientist at the UC-Riverside Entomology Research Museum, said that "One reason we are bringing this discovery to the public's attention is that it seems likely that this beetle may be highly restricted in distribution, and the habitat where it occurs may require consideration for some level of protection, at least until we can learn more about it."

As for the discoverer of the insect, Joshua Oliva, he is applying to UC-Riverside's graduate program in entomology.  Oliva said that he is hoping his discovery will give him a "leg up" on the competition and mentioned that "discovering a new insect sure looks good on the application."  Good luck to him!

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