New Firefly Species Uncovered in Southern California by College Student

First Posted: Jun 29, 2015 08:36 AM EDT

Scientists may have discovered a new species of firefly in California. While college student Joshua Oliva was hiking, he managed to uncover a new species of this insect.

Oliva was actually collecting insects for a class project. That's when he uncovered the new firefly species and brought it to Doug Yanega, senior museum scientist at the Entomology Research Museum at UC Riverside, for confirmation.

The find is an exciting one. The museum has fewer than 30 local firefly specimens in its collection. To put that in perspective, the entire collection has about four million bug specimens that go back about 100 years. There are 18 known species of fireflies in California, which is far fewer than the 56 species of fireflies that can be found in Florida.

"West of western Kanas, it is very rare to see flashing fireflies," said Marc Branham, firefly expert, in an interview with the LA Times. "And even the ones that do glow can be very small and their glow can be so faint that it is difficult to see."

The newly discovered firefly is about half a centimeter in length and is mostly black. However, its head has "armor" that's marked with an orange halo-like pattern.

In this case, the researchers aren't revealing the exact location where the new firefly was uncovered. Yet the fact that it was present shows that California may have far more firefly species than once thought; it just might be that there are fewer of them and that they're harder to see.

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