The firefly found by Joshua Oliva, who recently completed his undergraduate studies at UC Riverside, is about half a centimeter long and also black through an orange halo-like sample on the shield covering its head.

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A never-before-seen types of firefly to be just discovered in the Santa Monica mountains, in Topanga.

It’s simply a tiny guy — about fifty percent a centimeter long. It does glow, however faintly. Professionals say it has actually nothing ~ above its beaming East shore cousins the light increase lawns on warmth summer evenings.

But the new discovery is tho thrilling: It method that contrary to famous belief, there room fireflies in southern California.

Entomologists have actually known around fireflies in our an ar for a lengthy time, yet they speak they are hardly ever seen and also are an overwhelming even for the experts to find.

Doug Yanega that the Entomology research Museum in ~ UC Riverside said the museum has actually fewer than 30 regional firefly specimens in that collection.

To placed that in context, the entire collection has around 4 million pest specimens, and it goes earlier 100 years.

“So that’s all we discovered with all the students, staff and also faculty collecting over the previous century,” that said. “You really have to be at the right location at the ideal time.

Firefly professional Marc Branham that the college of Florida in Gainesville stated there room 18 known species of fireflies in California, compared with 56 species in Florida, and also 2,200 described varieties worldwide.

“As you walk west in the U.S., there are countless fewer fireflies, and also in short, we don’t recognize why,” he said.

He added that plenty of of the fireflies on the West shore are bioluminescent only as soon as they are in the larval stage. By the time they flourish into adulthood, castle no longer glow.

“West of west Kansas, the is very rare to see flashing fireflies,” that said. “And even the people that do glow can be very tiny and their glow can be therefore faint that it is difficult to see.”

But there is tho hope. Luminescent fireflies have been seen in the Santa Monica mountains and the Laguna hills in san Diego. They’ve also been spotted ~ above the southeast slope of Mt. Mountain Jacinto and upper Lytle Creek in san Bernardino County.

“They are probably in numerous other spots, but we nothing have an excellent maps of species distribution,” Yanega said.

In general, fireflies choose wet habitats that much better support snails, your favorite food. Those couple of species that have actually been discovered in southern California have been found mostly through springs, seeps and also streams.

They likewise seem come be active only in the summer months. Yanega stated every solitary firefly specimen in the museum’s collection was caught between May and July.

The brand-new firefly types still needs to be named and officially described. It was caught by Joshua Oliva, who freshly completed his undergraduate research studies at UC Riverside.

Yanega is not revealing the specific spot where the an insect was found, however said it was in a relatively developed area the Topanga Canyon, whereby a herbal low spot in the soil gathers water ~ above a temporary basis.

If you’d choose to go firefly searching yourself, your finest bet is to head because that a natural water resource on a summer night and turn off her flashlight therefore you have a far better chance of seeing a glow.

“I don’t recognize of any kind of place that is a predictable spot though,” Yanega said. “There are probably a many of places where you might see them, however if it to be predictable, it would be far better known.”

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Deborah Netburn is a attributes writer at the Los Angeles Times. She joined the file in 2006 and also has extended entertainment, home and also garden, national news, modern technology and most recently, science.