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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Natural History of Pleotomodes Needhami (Coleoptera:lampyridae): a Firefly Symbiont of Ants Manuscript Was Previously Reviewed. Change in Journal Name Only.

item Sivinski, John
item Lloyd, James - ENT. DEPT., UNIV OF FL
item Beshers, Samuel - BIOL SCI CENTER, BOSTON U
item Davis Jr, Lloyd
item Sivinski, Robert -
item Wing, Steven - ENT. DEPT., UNIV. OF FL
item Sullivan, Robert -
item Cushing, Paula - ZOOL. DEPT., UNIV. OF FL
item Petersson, Erik - USDA-ARS, VISITING SCI.

Submitted to: The Coleopterists Bulletin
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 30, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Much of the basic work of ecology and its applied branch, biological control, is the cataloging of predaceous insects and their prey. In ants this is often difficult because of their underground lives. As a result new and novel interactions among ants and other insects are being continuously discovered. Scientists at the ARS/USDA, Gainesville, FL, cooperating with the University of Florida and Boston University scientists discovered an interaction between a species of firefly and three species of ants which is the first of its kind to be described from the New World. The predaceous larva lives in the brood chamber of its hosts. Females emerge from the nest at night to emit a luminous signal to attract mates. Pupation occurs in the brood chambers. Future collections of insects specialized to live with ants may yield means to suppress pest species such as the imported fire ant.

Technical Abstract: A firefly, Pleotomodes needhami, lives in the nest of three species of ants in Florida, USA. These ants are the fungus-growing Trachymrmex septentrionalis, and the carnivorous Odontomachus clarus and a Dorymyrmex spp. At present all known specimens of P. needhami have been collected on the grounds of the Archbold Biological Station. Larvae, pupae and adults of both sexes were excavated from the brood-queen- fungal chambers of T. septentrionalis. Ants appear to ignore their guests and 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 occurs 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.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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