Genus Pteroptyx

The genus Pteroptyx was erected by Ernest Olivier in 1902 for species in which the males have apices of the elytra strongly deflexed and the terminal abdominal sternite strongly trilobed or trisinuate. The hooked elytral tips of Pteroptyx fireflies are the primary criterion for separating the genus Pteroptyx from Luciola. Little is known about the natural history and behaviour of Pteroptyx but it appears that this genus is often involved in the arboreal synchronous flashing so characteristic of Southeast Asia.

The three dominant species of Pteroptyx found throughout the Peninsula are Pteroptyx tener E. Olivier, Pteroptyx valida E. Olivier and Pteroptyx malaccae (Gorham). A lesser-known species with similar taxonomical characteristics to Pteroptyx tener was identified as Pteroptyx sp. Although this species is similar to P. tener, it appears to be an undescribed species.

Pteroptyx tener
was identified based on previous records available from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak, Sumatra and Cambodia. This species has a wide distribution throughout Thailand, New Guinea and Malaysia and is also the dominant species in Kampong Kuantan. 

Six-week old larva of Pteroptyx tener.

Female (left) and male (right) Pteroptyx tener in a romantic mood.

Female (left) and male (right) Pteroptyx tener.

Pteroptyx valida was identified based on records from Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, whereas Pteroptyx malaccae was identifed based on known records from Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, Kalimantan and Cambodia. P. malaccae and P. valida have been observed in displays near Bangkok. The synchronous displays for which the Pteroptyx species are responsible have been identified occurring in trees or shrubs along tidal rivers in mangrove-nypa swamps. Many of the reports have described synchrony in riverbank trees in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Phillipines and New Guinea, and several of the species from these regions have a coastal distribution. The congregation of fireflies in Sonneratia caseolaris trees along the lowest three miles of the Benut River in Johore have also been described by several firefly observers. Pteroptyx is the most widely distributed genus in Peninsular Malaysia.

All rights reserved Kumari Nallakumar, ASEAN Review of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation (ARBEC) 2002