Credits: Tito Sacchi.


Publication: “Guida delle lucciole d’Italia – Lampyridae”

Fireflies: their flashes in the night attract attention and arouse wonder. Their destiny is a matter of concern, not only by entomologists. They work both as important indicators of environmental quality and source of emotions among those who could experience to discover them during childhood. Despite their intriguing life history, fireflies remain in some ways a partially explored planet.

The recent publication of the volume “Guida delle lucciole d’Italia – Lampyridae” (edited by “Effigi”) by Fabrizio Fanti – a recognized scientific authority in the field of italian firefly studies – gives an important contribution to the knowledge of distribution, clasification and biology of fireflies that can be recorded in Italy. After an introductory review of miths, legends, uses and curiosity about firefly world, the Author discusses various aspects of firefly biology. To follow, methods of study, actions aimed at conservation and critical factors threatening firefly survival (urbanization, light pollutio, agricultural intensification, climate changes) are analyzed and discussed.

The final part of the volume is focused on firefly species (N=19) inhabiting Italy: morphologiocal description, biology, ecology, conservation status are discussed. Dicotomic keys are provided in order to help species identification. Distribution maps and full reference list are also reported. 

The publication of this book was the occasion to revise some italian firefly species. In conclusion, this excellent book authored by Fabrizio Fanti is an important and essential tool to those who want to discover the magic world of italian fireflies.

Summary of index:

  • Introduction
  • General part (Diagnosis – Myths, legends and curiosity – Historical notes – Derivatio nominis – Names of fireflies in other languages – Eggs – Morphology of larval stages – Adults morphology – Life cycle and biology – Bioluminescence – Parasitoids and predators – Defence, aposematism – Teratology and gynandromorphism – Intra and inter specific mating – Distribution and classification – Notes on paleontology – Humans and fireflies – Methods of sampling, study and breeding – Biological conservation – Future challenges)
  • Drawings and photos
  • Special part (Introduction to the systematics of italian Lampyrids – Checklist – Species to be deleted from italian fauna – Species recorded in Corsica – Species recorded in Malta – Red List – The case of Lampyris farinesi A.Villa & G.B. Villa, 1838 – The genus  Luciola in Europe: a complex of species – Nyctophila: genus or subgenus? – Holotypes and typical series – Identification keys)
  • Table of Italian species (description, distribution, biology)
  • Distribution maps
  • Taxonomic revisions
  • Legenda
  • Notes by the Author
  • Appendix
  • References

Write to fantifab@alice.it to buy a copy or to get more information.


Among animals, insects are not universally liked, but fireflies usually are somehow an exception. The magic of  their light emissions in the darkness of the night is generally matter of fascination, especially when such an observation is experienced  during childhood. Anyway, observing fireflies has become an uncommon experience for most human population, since those insects are declining, due to several threats that during the last decades have worked as critical factors: light pollution, urbanization, agricultural intensification, pesticide use.

Credits: Quintino Mita.

It is reasonable to hypothesize that since the ‘50s firefly populations in Europe have suffered from the deep change in landscape structure due to both agricultural modernization and urbanization. At the same time it is not easy to support the opinion that in Italy they are recently re-colonizing areas where they got extinct in the past, since a National Survey – similar to the ones in other countries(i.e. U.K., Switzerland) – for monitoring such organisms is still missing. Anyway in the last decades the growth of environmental  awareness and interest in wildlife conservation has stimulated many events aimed at contacting the world of fireflies in their habitat. Year by year the number of “magic nights” devoted to firefly observation is increasing as well as the involvement of citizens.

Those events are particularly relevant because fireflies work as biological indicators to get the public to approach problems such as biodiversity loss, light pollution and impact of both urbanization and agricultural intensification on wildlife. Therefore this website was set to meet the growing interest in firefly biology and protection of their habitats in the hope of helping improvethe knowledge of those charming organisms by providing information on their biology, distribution, ecological role and threats to their life, with a special emphasis on Italian species.

Luciola adult male. Credits: Francesco Tomasinelli.
Lampyris larva on a prey. Credits: Francesco Tomasinelli.