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Adult Firefly or "Lightning Bug" – a Crepuscular Beetle
Photuris lucicrescens

Crepuscular is a term used to describe some animals that are primarily active during twilight, that is at dawn and at dusk.[1] The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight."[1] Crepuscular is thus in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright moonlit night. Many animals that are casually described as nocturnal are in fact crepuscular.[2] Within the definition of crepuscular are the terms matutinal (or "matinal") and vespertine, denoting species active in the dawn and dusk respectively.

The patterns of activity are thought to be an antipredator adaptation. Many predators forage most intensely at night, while others are active at mid-day and see best in full sun. Thus the crepuscular habit may reduce predation. Additionally, in hot areas, it may be a way of avoiding thermal stress while capitalizing on available light.

Some crepuscular mammals include the Red Panda, cats, deer, moose, rabbits, chinchillas, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, the common mouse, skunks, rats, wombats, quolls, Spotted Hyena and capybaras. Crepuscular birds include the Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, American Woodcock, and Spotted Crake.

Some animals that are extinct were also crepuscular, such as the Tasmanian Tiger.

Some species have different habits in the absence of predators. For example, the Short-eared Owl is crepuscular on those of the Galápagos Islands that have buzzard species, but diurnal on those without.

Many moths, beetles, flies, and other insects are crepuscular as well.


  1. ^ a b Winn, Philip (2001), Dictionary of Biological Psychology, Taylor & Francis, p. 194, ISBN 0415136067 
  2. ^ [1]

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CREPUSCULAR (from Lat. crepusculum, twilight), of or belonging to the twilight, hence indistinct or glimmering; in zoology the word is used of animals that appear before sunrise or nightfall.

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