We studied the spectral characteristics of the larvae of three sympatric Belgian species of fireflies, Lampyris noctiluca, Phosphaenus hemipterus and Lamprohiza splendidula. An in vivo spectral study was performed to compare bioluminescence spectra. The emission spectrum of a laboratory reared female L. noctiluca was recorded by a different, more exact method. The mean peak wavelength (λmax = 546 nm) and shapes of the unimodal emission spectra are visually similar for the larvae of all three species. The emission spectrum of the adult female L. noctiluca peaked in the same range as the larval bioluminescence between 546 and 551 nm. The bandwidth at half-maximum intensity was slightly greater for larval L. noctiluca (77 ± 4 nm) compared with P. hemipterus (70 ± 10 nm). The bandwidth of larval L. splendidula (77 ± 8 nm) was not different compared with the other larvae, whereas the females' bandwidth was somewhat narrower (68 nm). The ecological significance of the color of bioluminescence and conservancy of green emission in larval fireflies and other luminescent beetle larvae is discussed.
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Vol. 79 • No. 4