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Amber comet firefly

Pyractomena vexillaria
A pinned specimen of an adult female Pyractomena vexillaria. (Photo: Mike Quinn.)
U.S. State
Texas
Life History

Activity Period and Flash Signal

True to its name, the species has a bright amber flash with a trailing glow. Adults are active in mid-summer, with male courtship displays beginning about 30 minutes after sunset.

Distribution

This species has not been found in Texas since 1940, despite concerted survey effort, and it is unclear what its status is in Mexico, where much of the range has been converted for agriculture. 

Habitat Associations

The amber comet firefly has been reported from several different habitat types: over a marsh in Tabasco, Mexico; in mixed semi-arid cenizo and guajillo brushland with limestone river basins in Texas; and in the Texas Hill Country where the dominant vegetation is oak and cedar brush. Surveys are critically needed to determine if the species remains extant. 

Conservation Status
  • IUCN Red List status: Endangered (tentative pending publication)
  • NatureServe status: Not assessed
  • U.S. Endangered Species Act status: None
Threats

Threats to this species are not well documented in Texas but likely include light pollution and habitat degradation due to agricultural and urban development. In Mexico, much of its known range has been converted to sugarcane plantations and cattle pasture.

Conservation Needs
  • We need to know more about the distribution of this species. Report sightings of any fireflies you see in Texas and Mexico to iNaturalist, and consider participating in Firefly Watch.
  • Turn off your outdoor lights at night so the lights of this firefly aren’t diminished by light pollution. You can read more about firefly-friendly lighting in our fact sheet.
  • Avoid pesticide use, which could harm this firefly, its habitat, or its prey.
Prepared By

Candace Fallon, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, based on the IUCN Red List assessment

USA
Mexico