Optical characterization and redescription of the South Pacific firefly Bourgeoisia hypocrita Olivier (Coleoptera: Lampyridae: Luciolinae)

Dimitri Deheyn, Lesley Ballantyne

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Bourgeoisia hypocrita Olivier is an atypical species of firefly where males lack light organs in ventrite 7 and havereduced light organs in ventrite 6 and may not produce light at all, while females are flightless and produce a long-lastingglow (up to tens of seconds). Here, photobiology of females is described for the first time. Colour of producedbioluminescence ranges in the green to yellow/green. Spectrum is unimodal peaking at 575'595 nm but more complexthan other fireflies in having two shoulders at 545'550 nm and 600'610 nm. A taxonomic re-examination of the speciesbased on recent collections and type material shows that larvae and adults exhibit a peculiar dark pigmentation.Fluorescence and absorbance of adult extracts indicate this pigmentation could be involved in UV protection, in additionto possibly serving as cryptic camouflage. Fluorescence and absorbance of eggs, which have a light gold colour, indicatethe luminous compound could be used as an antioxidant during this early life stage. Overall, the signal ofbioluminescence shows characteristics of a basal system of flash communication in B. hypocrita, which associates lightproduction not only to visual communication but also possibly to UV and/or free radicals protective mechanisms
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


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