Quick spreading of populations of an exotic firefly throughout Spain and their recent arrival in the French Pyrenees

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In August 2018, a firefly (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) of American origin was observed in several localities in Girona (Catalonia, Spain) and was described as Photinus immigrans by Zaragoza-Caballero and Vinolas, 2018. Here, we show that this species dispersed very quickly throughout northeastern Spain and was, in 2020, observed in the French Pyrenees. The animal’s quick progress is documented, and part of its biology is described (dispersion speed, land use, phenology, identification of all life stages). An additional population was localized in Extremadura, and its special status is discussed. We were able to determine its Argentinian–Uruguayan origin and propose, therefore, to consider Photinus immigrans as a synonym of Photinus signaticollis (Blanchard, 1846) (=Photinus immigrans Zaragoza-Caballero and Viñolas, 2018, syn. nov.). Our data clearly show that at least the Catalan and French populations are spreading very quickly and are able to settle permanently if adequate ecosystems are found. The species is highly expansive and may well be invasive; our citizen science platforms are ideally suited to monitor their progress throughout Spain and France. This is important for avoiding future ecological problems with diverse native faunas, such as glow-worms, fireflies and earthworms. If no ways are found to stop the species’ progression, the animals will quite probably invade substantial areas of France, Spain and the rest of Europe in the years to come.
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