Orfelia fultoni is the only bioluminescent species of flies found in North America. It is distantly related to Arachnocampa, but their bioluminescent systems use distinct mechanisms.[1] The larvae of the species live in stream banks among moss and rock cavities, as well as in wet sandstone caves. They build sticky webs, and using their two bioluminescent lanterns as an attractant, capture flying prey. They produce the bluest light of any studied bioluminescent insect. The species occurs in the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau, primarily in the states of Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.[2]

Orfelia fultoni
Foxfire at Anna Ruby Fall, Chattahoochee National Forest (14516028661).jpg
O. fultoni larvae at Anna Ruby Falls
Scientific classification
O. fultoni
Binomial name
Orfelia fultoni
(Fisher, 1940)

Orfelia fultoni has sometimes been referred to by the common name "dismalites",[3] in consequence of their presence in Dismals Canyon, a National Natural Landmark in northwest Alabama.


  1. ^ Viviani, Vadim R.; Hastings, J. Woodland; Wilson, Thérèse (January 1, 2002). "Two Bioluminescent Diptera: The North American Orfelia fultoni and the Australian Arachnocampa flava. Similar Niche, Different Bioluminescence Systems". Photochemistry and Photobiology. 75 (1): 22–27. doi:10.1562/0031-8655(2002)0750022tbdtna2.0.co2.
  2. ^ Link to article on Orfelia fultoni
  3. ^ Dismals Canyon Website

External linksEdit