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!”
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).
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.