Mystery bug
I stumbled across your website last night while trying to identify this unusual(?) insect that flew into the refrigerator right after I opened the door. I live on the coast of Los Angeles, CA. and have never seen a bug quite like this here in L.A. (or anywhere else for that matter). The pictures are not very good. It was difficult to photograph him/her in the fridge. It has a red body with black tipped legs and black wings. The feelers are long and it was using them very industriously to find its way around and explore any little crevice. Do you have any idea what it could be? Thank you

Hi Sophia,
We originally thought that this was a Glowworm Beetle in the family Phengodidae, but Eric Eaton set us straight.

Hi, Daniel:
The “glowworm beetle” is actually a male firefly, Pterotus obscuripennis, family Lampyridae. The males are not luminescent. The females of this species are “larviform,” meaning that they attain sexual maturity while retaining a larval appearance. The ladies ‘do’ glow, but rather faintly compared to true glowworms (family Phengodidae). Confusion in the names results from assigning “glowworm” to any luminescent, larva-like insect, regardless of what family it belongs to. There are “glowworms” in Australia, for example, that are the larvae of fungus gnats!
P.S. Would enjoy having the Pterotus image over at Bugguide. We have few, if any images thusfar.

Update: (04/14/2008)
Hello That’s the last thing I would’ve expected, but I think you’re right. He didn’t have a neck. We did a little more research at the library and found some pictures of male fireflies that looked just like him. Also when I showed the pics to my dad he said that when he was little and growing up in the San Fernando Valley, there were fireflies all over the place. So I guess it’s not really that unusual out here, although their numbers have decreased considerably now that it’s wall to wall bedrooms. I’m glad he survived his encounter with the refrigerator. Thank you very much for your help. Cheers

Location: California

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