Saturday 9 April 2022

Petalacmis triplehorni: A new species of Firefly from Bolivia.

Fireflies, Lampyridae, are Beetles closely related to Soldier and Click Beetles, noted for their remarkable light producing organs. These appear to have first developed in the larvae, which use them to warn potential predators of their unpleasant taste, but have been retained into adulthood in males of some species and co-opted for mating displays, with the females of one species also retaining these organs, and using them to attract members of other species, which are preyed on. The conspicuous nature of these Insects means that they have been observed since antiquity, with many cultures attributing supernatural significance to their appearance. However, they are relatively understudied from South America, with only two species described from South America, both placed within the genus Petalacmis, with only the males known from either species.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 4 April 2022, Luiz Lima da Silveira of the Department of Biology at Western Carolina University, and Marc Branham of the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida, describe a new species of Petalacmis from the Santa Cruz Department of Bolivia. 

The new species is named Petalacmis triplehorni, in honour of Charles 'Chuck' Triplehorn, Professor Emeritus of the Ohio State University, who collected the first specimens of Petalacmis praeclarus that Marc Branham first encountered as a graduate student while investigating the systematics of the family Lampyridae, and served as a mentor and an inspiration to him. The species is described from fifteen specimens, collected from different locations within Santa Cruz Department by different collectors between 2000 and 2005.

Petalacmis triplehorni, holotype (male, prior to dissection), habitus (A) dorsal (B) ventral. Scale bar is 1 mm. Da Silveira & Branham (2022).

Known male specimens of Petalacmis triplehorni are dark brown in colour, and vary between 5.06 and 5.81 mm in length. Their antennae are distinctive, with only nine antennomeres (antennal segments), the ninth of which is very elongate and paddle-shaped. The elytra (wing cases) are subparallel, the abdomen approximately diamond shaped.

See also...

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Twitter