Firefly beetles or lightning bugs are 5-20 mm long, brown with olive green or black markings, and sometimes marked with yellow or red. The head is somewhat concealed by the prothorax. Abdomen has ventral light organs in both sexes of most species; it is usually large in the male and small in the female. Larvae are found in leaflitter or on the soil surface; in some species the larvae are luminous. In spring, males usually fly above the ground, and the females of most species are on the ground or some other fixed site. Firefly light is produced by a mixture of chemicals similar to enzymes, resulting in the production of light and very little heat. For most species, the flashing is determined genetically and is a fixed pattern. The characteristic flashing pattern separates species that occur in the same habitat. Adults of some species are predaceous on other insects, and sometimes other fireflies. The importance of some species is their economic contribution to tourism, which is based on excursions to see large populations in synchronous flashing at night.

Asian firefly, Pteroptyx tener Several species of Pteroptyx are present throughout the year and have the behavior of aggregating in trees and synchronous flashing. This species occurs along the Selangor river, in the Kuala Selangor district in Malaysia. Related species in this region include P. valida, and P. malaccae.

Blue Mountains firefly, Atyphella lychnus Adults are about 9 mm long and the body is light brown with dull yellow stripes on the fore wings. This species occurs in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. A related species, Luciola costata, is yellow with black tips on the front wings and occurs in northern Australia, including the Torres Strait Islands.

Eastern firefly, Photinus pyralis Adults are 10-14 mm long, brown, and the thorax has yellow margins. This species occurs in north- and southeastern USA.

European firefly, Luciola lusitanica This species occurs east of the Rhone river in southern Europe. It has light-producing organs in both sexes. The immature stages feed on land snails.

Glow-worm, Lampyris nocituca The adult male is about 28 mm long, light brown, and the pronotum covers the head. The female is about 23 mm long, brown, wingless and larvi-form, and the pronotum extends over the head. This species is distributed in the UK.

Western firefly, Ellychina californica Adults are 10-14 mm long, black or reddish black; the elytra are covered with fine, yellowish hairs. This species occurs in western USA.

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