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A Cool Find in Oregon

After Thanksgiving I was in Eugene, Oregon visiting friends. We went on a forest ecology walk at the Arboretum on Mt. Pisgah.

You read that right. Thanksgiving weekend in Oregon.

It was cold. Windy. It even hailed a little. (Or was it freezing rain? I always get those confused. Little balls of ice. They hit me on my face.)

Now don’t get me wrong- forest ecology is cool. I just prefer it if my nature walks can promise some exoskeleton along with the lichen, you know?

So I’m bumbling along behind the group, trying to feel my toes and I see a black beetle on a fence post.

In the Pacific Northwest, there are lots of insects that are adapted to the colder months. We’ve even written about a few. But I’m still surprised when I find one.

Back to the beetle. As I look closer, I’m shocked. It looks like a lampyrid; known as lightning bugs or fireflies where I’m from. I think, “it can’t be! There are no fireflies out west!”

Ellychnia

I had stumbled upon a diurnal firefly, genus Ellychnia, one of two species found in Oregon. They don’t glow as adults, and larvae live in rotting logs. It’s not known if the larvae of this genus exhibit bioluminescence, as some others do (as glowworms).

Ellychnia pronotum

Forgotten were my frozen fingers, the hail-sleet in my hair, my purple chapped lips. I Found An Insect!!!!! And it was one I’d never seen before. That’s a double score.

For a much better picture that wasn’t taken with an icy iPhone check out Alex Wild’s here.

Join the discussion

  1. Robert Voss

    It was great fun to meet you both at the S2S meeting. Looking forward to the next meeting. It did not occur to me at the time, but you mentioned a need for lighting for your next show and one person said he had lights. Well, I have a pick-up and would be happy to transport. Would this make me a roadie?

  2. Isaac Gibson

    It’s always great to see people excited about bugs.
    thanks.

  3. Reese Dougherty

    I stumbled upon your web page on accident but it was a great accident. I live in Oregon and was wondering about fireflies here as they are back east. I am sad to see that the adult fireflies out here do not light up. I hope to be able to show my littler children the wonderful dance of the fireflies one day. It is something that all children should be able to see at least once in their lifetime. Thank you for the information you provided. You answered my question completely! Thank you for what you do.

  4. thebugchicks

    Reese- thanks for writing! Yes, it is disappointing-but the larvae glow! Not as magical as you have to kind of dig for them. We both grew up out east and it is truly an experience to behold. When I have kids we will make a pilgrimage to see them. –Kristie

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