May
26
2006

Where have all the fireflies gone?

Recently, an anonymous visitor posted the question, "Why haven't I seen any fireflies over the last few summers?" That got me thinking, and I realized that I haven't seen many fireflies, either. (You don't usually see fireflies in Minnesota until late June or early July, but I don't remember seeing any last year or the year before.) So what's the skinny?

Firefly: Have you seen any of these guys lately?
Firefly: Have you seen any of these guys lately?Courtesy AriCee

I thought about it a little bit.

Like many other insects', fireflies' life cycle includes egg, larval, and adult stages. Adults lay eggs on or just under the soil. Because they eat critters like worms, slugs, and snails, most larvae are found in rotting wood or leaf litter or on the edges of streams and ponds. Adults tend to favor the same habitats as the larvae, but we know a lot less about adult habits. Their mouths suggest that they eat other bugs, and scientists know that some fireflies eat other fireflies, but it's likely that they eat plant nectar and possibly other foods, too. You're likely to see adult fireflies over lawns and meadows and at the edges of woods or streams.


Firefly_larva: Crazy, huh? I know I've never seen these guys around! I'd have made a point of looking them up! (Photo courtesy Myriorama)Courtesy Myriorama

My backyard seems like it would be firefly heaven, and yet I'm not seeing them. What other factors could be at play?

I thought of three. And then I found a fourth possibility on this cool website. (Maybe you can think of others?)

  1. Many areas have stepped up their mosquito control efforts due to concerns about West Nile virus. Is it possible that this has somehow impacted firefly populations? (I think this is an unlikely explanation, because why would we notice a reduction in fireflies but not other insects? And further, there certainly seem to be plenty of mosquitoes!)
  2. Our temperatures have been wacky. Maybe fireflies require a specific temperature range to hatch, or to change from their larval stage to their pupal stage? Are we exceeding that comfort zone, or not staying in the proper range long enough?
  3. Lack of habitat is always a possibility. Maybe they aren't finding enough to eat or the right places to lay their eggs?
  4. Since fireflies communicate with blinking light, perhaps they prefer to inhabit areas away from city centers with all the ambient light that goes along with them? (I think this is unlikely, too, since I've seen fireflies in the city before.)

Or maybe I'm just not looking in the right places at the right times. (Here are a few reported sightings from Minnesota…)

I'm going to do some investigating, talking to some folks at the Warner Nature Center and the University of Minnesota's Entomology Department. I'll post answers as I get them.

But I want to hear from you: have you seen fireflies? Where? Describe the place you saw them. What date? And what time of day?





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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

If you're interested, here are more firefly resources. Or visit the Project Firefly discussion board, which also has a long list of links.

posted on Fri, 05/26/2006 - 2:37pm
kelip's picture
kelip says:

in Malaysia, pteroptyx tener (synchronous fireflies) species stay on one particular vegetation species, sonneratia caseolaris... do fireflies really have favourite trees?what do you think?

posted on Sun, 05/27/2007 - 8:17pm
MikeuponCarrick's picture
MikeuponCarrick says:

Anyone visiting Malaysia should definitely check out the firefly boat tours on the Selangor River. All along the river's edge, trees were glowing from huge swarms of fireflies occupying them. I've alway enjoyed watching fireflies, but I''ve never seen anything like this. Magical! A truly unique tourist attraction.

posted on Sat, 09/08/2007 - 12:15am
Danielle's picture
Danielle says:

I love fireflys, and if I was anywhere near Malaysia I'd definitely be on the Selangor River right now... Would you know which trees the firefly's were swarming around?
I'd love to see if I could plant one and watch the beautiful firefly's come to it.

posted on Sun, 05/24/2009 - 7:02pm
Teresa's picture
Teresa says:

Liza:

Just wanted you to know here in South Louisiana we have also seen a huge decline in Fire Flies or as we call them Lightning Bugs. However, for the first time in several years I saw one this evening. I am making a cottage garden in the front of our home so I hope to give them plenty of opportunity to grow.I would love to see them come back in full force. Thanks for the website.

posted on Thu, 06/07/2007 - 8:06pm
Doug's picture
Doug says:

We've been visiting in Rochester for about a month now, and we've seen quite a few fireflies, but only on warm calm evenings. On our way out here in our RV from Oregon, we also saw quite a few in South Dakota.

Tonight I saw a bunch, and for the first time I saw some glowing a firey red color instead of the yellowish color we usually see. Would that be a totally different species than the yellow glowing fireflies, or does one gender glow a different color than the other?

posted on Wed, 07/18/2007 - 2:20am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We have seen a few here in North Louisiana but nothing like it was back when I was growing up in MS.

posted on Sun, 08/22/2010 - 10:51am
Mark's picture
Mark says:

Liza, you'll be glad to know that fireflies are well and doing well in Cape Girardeau, MO. They began appearing in early May this year, and are still going strong. They're best viewed here from a half hour after sunset until about 10 p.m.

We reside in a fairly well-to-do neighborhood just north of town. Some of the lawns are so well-manicured that I don't even want to think about the herbicides, pesticides, or anything else they might have thrown into the ground. And the neighborhood is regularly sprayed for mosquitoes. So I credit our across-the-street neighbors for the presence of fireflies in our area. They have taken a low-key approach toward maintaining the area where their back yard meets a creek. They haven't allowed the area to become a landscape dump, nor is it cluttered with rotten limbs and overgrown weeds. But it looks to be harmonious with nature.

posted on Wed, 07/25/2007 - 3:03pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This is a reply to Mark in Cape Gierardeau, MO. It's the weirdest thing. My husband and I are on a little sight-seeing weekend vacation and tonight we were driving along, talking about how we used to catch fireflies (lightning bugs we called them) as kids, and now we never see them. We became so curious that I said when we came to a stopping place and chose a motel, I'd get on the internet and see what I could find out about where the fireflies went. This is the first website that came up, and Mark, guess where we are staying the night? Hampton Inn, Gierardeau, MO. I couldn't believe the coincidence and just wanted to share with you. If we weren't so tired and ready for bed, we'd drive around and look for fireflies.
Denise from Arkansas

posted on Sat, 08/30/2008 - 9:09pm
Jade's picture
Jade says:

I am so glad to have searched and found this site for firefly resources. Just 2 days ago I was wondering about the disappearance of the fireflies in the village where I live in the New Territories in HK. I feel determined to try & do something about it!

posted on Mon, 05/04/2009 - 9:39pm
Jill F.'s picture
Jill F. says:

Liza, are you still out there? Have you seen any fireflies this summer, 2009? I have some students trying to do a project on fireflies and we have not found any. I wish people would keep reporting their sightings!
Thanks for all of the great information~
JILL Freshwaters
3rd Grade teacher

posted on Wed, 07/22/2009 - 2:56pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hi, Jill.

I'm still here. Two years ago, we moved into a different house, with very different landscaping and light levels. And I haven't seen a single FLASHING firefly yet this summer. However, I have found many, many fireflies out and about during the day. (Are they still fireflies if they're not flashing? Hmmmm...) Anyway, my prior experience says that I shouldn't expect to see flashing ones until mid-July (OK, so that's now), and that the species that I've seen in recent years aren't active at dusk, but much, much later in the evening -- 10 or so.

I didn't have a lot of luck rounding up a firefly expert two summers ago, but I'll try again this year. Stay tuned!

posted on Wed, 07/22/2009 - 3:28pm
terrie's picture
terrie says:

as a child, we lived in West Covina, California. we use to catch fireflies/lighting bugs around dusk. All of us kids would go get a mason jar and see who could catch the most. Then when it turned dark we would let them go. I have not seen any since then. about 1969, we moved to san diego saw then there until 1972, i miss the little guys. wantrd to show my grand kids these little lights. Guess we will have to go to another state. Alright, Kids, Road Trip with Grandma!

posted on Fri, 03/05/2010 - 9:58pm
PJ's picture
PJ says:

Fireflies in West Covina, California? Surely you are joking bc they don't usually go any further west than Bozeman, Montana. Are you sure they were fireflies? Photos would be nice - nobody knows why they don't live in the west...my guess is the lack of humidity.

posted on Mon, 09/12/2011 - 11:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yea i too want to know what has happened to the fireflies, i think it may have to do with weather, which is one of your hypothesis's. well i hope i see some, the last memory i have is about 3 years ago and i saw them.

posted on Mon, 05/29/2006 - 1:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

They are all over the place in northern Illinois.

posted on Sun, 07/02/2006 - 7:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I was raised in Dekalb county Georgia and my cgildhood memories of summer are waiting for night time to see the fireflies light up the yard.My brothers may have put them in mason jars, but I did not believe in harming lighting bugs! I now live in North Charleston , South Carolina. I don't see fireflies around here at night. My boys can't experience the wonder of lighting bugs. Why aew there no lighting bugs in South Carolina?
zthe photo of the fire fly larva was extrordinary! I have never seen such a thing.Even in my romps in the woods with my oldest son looking for any thing out of the ordinary. Wgich we did n sevral occaisions.I missed the ability to go bug hunting in the woods with youngest son brcause when he was at the age of loving indects and lizards,I was confined to a whel chair.
I have enjoyed this website. And I look forwaed to learning more about bugs and such.I wish this site could have been aroundthe years my oldest son was bug hunting. My wheel chair may keep me from hunting, but not from learning.
Thankd, carol.

posted on Sat, 07/28/2007 - 7:50am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Tom Anderson, at the Warner Nature Center, wrote me back. Here's what he had to say:

Hi Liza,

My mosquito control district contact has not contacted me so I thought I should send you some other thoughts. I can get back to you if I hear anything different.

  1. Adult fireflies typically don't come out until early to mid-July, so we shouldn't be seeing many right now anyway.
  2. Mosquito control might be having a selective effect on fireflies, as they live in moist places and are predators (hence, more likely to get larger quantities of pesticides in them due to bioaccumulation). Also, if mosquito control has included draining and drying out moist places, the fireflies' food source will become more scarce (see the next point).
  3. Most likely, it has to do with the weather. If a summer is dry at the a critical firefly period it can impact their nourishment. Fireflies eat primarily slugs. Slugs need to be in moist places or they dry out. When the weather gets dry, slugs either die or hunker down in inaccesible moist spots, limiting the ability of the fireflies to find them.

cheers,
Tom

posted on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 9:10am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

And shortly after I heard from Tom, he heard from a representative from Mosquito Control. Here's what they had to say:

"You are correct that the growth regular (methoprene) used for mosquito control is specific to Diptera. We place methoprene in larval mosquito breeding sites which means that fireflies should not contact it. Firefly larvae develop in damp leaf litter well away from the aquatic habitats where mosquitoes breed.

Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) is even more specific to mosquitoes than methoprene. It also is applied only to larval mosquito breeding sites.

The pyrethroids applied by MMCD to control adult mosquitoes could potentially impact other insects that are directly exposed to the spray. Ultra low volume fogging at night is the only adulticide application made when fireflies are active. The pyrethroids (resmethrin and sumithrin) applied as ULV fog break down very rapidly meaning that they kill mosquitoes that encounter the fog and then disintegrate. Neither has any residual activity. ULV fogging occurs rarely enough that much of the area within the seven-county District is not treated which means that the vast majority of the firefly population never encounters pyrethroids.

Much of the decline in firefly abundance seems to be tied to a reduction in habitat where firefly larvae can develop, reduction apparently due primarily to urban development. Fireflies were moderately abundant in Roseville when I moved there in 1998. They have since decreased to almost not being visible. Mosquito control in Roseville has not changed much since 1998.

Please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions. Please also check out our website for more information about MMCD and our programs. Much technical and educational information is available through our website."

posted on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 9:21am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I also contacted Ralph Holzenthal, the director of the University of Minnesota's Entomology Department insect museum. Here's what he said:

"I saw fireflies last summer and the summer before last both in by backyard in Roseville and in Roseville Central Park on the 4th of July. I think it's really a matter of being there at the right time in combination with ambient light. But I would not want to conclude that the populations are declining as I have no data. If they are, any of the factors listed by Liza could be a cause.

I think there is an opinion going around the country that fireflies are declining, but to my knowledge it is all anecdotal. I think we have to be especially wary of 'There were a lot more when I was a kid, than now!' There was probably a lot more of everything when we were kids and we had a completely different perspective on the world.

But perhaps I am wrong and they are declining. I have not looked into the literature on this, but it should be easy to find out if there is any real assessment of the populations. Of course, there are a lot of different species of fireflies."

posted on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 9:28am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

So let's gather some data!

Starting June 25, I'll be checking my backyard and the Oakland Cemetery every night and reporting what I find. If other Buzz readers do the same, maybe we can get a more definitive answer.

posted on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 9:31am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hey! We got a new dog this weekend, and the silly girl won't go outside to pee unless someone goes with her. So last night, at 11:30 or so, I was standing in the backyard and I FINALLY saw fireflies! Not very many, to be sure. And they were up high, in the branches of trees. They flashed green, not yellow. And I couldn't make out the flash pattern as I didn't know how many I was looking at. I stood, watching, for about 20 minutes. And by 11:45, they were gone.

Now that I know there are even a few out there, I'll keep looking. And at different times of the evening.

**This comment was first posted on Sunday, June 18, but moved so it could be a "reply" to the entry asking for data.

posted on Wed, 06/21/2006 - 8:21am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

One lonely firefly spotted at about 9:30 last night. This one was flying over the sidewalk in front of the house, which seems way less hospitable to fireflies than the back yard. I went around back to see if there were others, but I didn't see any. And when I came back, the first one was gone.

I checked again late last night, hoping for a repeat of Saturday evening, but nothing.

I have noticed, however, some insects flying around during the day that look like fireflies. I wonder if we have a species that's more active in the daytime that outcompetes the nocturnal ones? Or if the ones I see during the day ARE active at night but I'm just not looking in the right places at the right times?

**This was originally posted on Tuesday, June 20, but moved so it could be a "reply" to the post asking for data submissions.

posted on Wed, 06/21/2006 - 8:23am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Single firefly, green flash, up high, in a wooded area, around 9:45 last night. I watched for 15 minutes, thinking there had to be others, but no luck.

Also, yesterday afternoon I caught what I think was a firefly. It was walking around on our stoop. I was going to take and post a picture, but my toddler was interested and the unfortunate bug became a casualty of her curiosity. Ooops. There are more, though...

posted on Wed, 06/21/2006 - 8:27am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

10:30 Wednesday night; two fireflies.

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 8:27am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

No fireflies in our yard, front or back, last night around 10:30. But I did find another one walking on our stoop around 7.

I have to get the species identified.

posted on Fri, 06/23/2006 - 11:30am
letermae's picture
letermae says:

I live in the Pacific NW (near Eugene Oregon) - and have NEVER seen a firefly in Oregon. I saw my first and only fireflies in McCook Nebraska 5 years ago. I was ENTRANCED!! I do remember seen one "glow worm" in my childhood. Are there fireflies in Oregon? Has any one seen them here? Why don't we have them?
Thanks!

posted on Wed, 07/05/2006 - 10:49pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I don't know WHY there are no fireflies in Oregon, but I do know that they only occur east of, say, mid-Kansas.

According to the Firefly Files:

"If you live in the United States, west of about the middle of Kansas, you are not apt to have the flashing type of fireflies in your area. Although some isolated sightings of luminous fireflies have been reported from time to time from regions of the western U.S., fireflies that glow are typically not found west of Kansas. The reason for this phenomenon is not known."

posted on Thu, 07/06/2006 - 9:14am
RCMC's picture
RCMC says:

Hi,

I was walking outside of our house at like 11:30 PM on 44 acres here in Obrien, Oregon and my doberman was looking at something on the dark ground (the moon was behind a tree). It looked as though a piece of mirror was reflecting the moon. But, upon closer inspection...it was a small worm thing, with a giant bright green glow coming from under his neck.
I looked on here and found it was a fire fly larve. I looked all over for like 15 min. but only ONE!
They are AWE inspiring~!

Peace

posted on Tue, 07/11/2006 - 12:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

OK, I see that this was several years ago, 2006, i have lived here since 2001, and I have NEVER seen a lightning bug! I grew up with them in Illinois, and really would like my children to have the joy of seeing them too... I am not far from O'Brien Oregon, where tehere is one there must be more, so why haven't i managed to see them? Believe me we have looked!!!

posted on Sun, 03/21/2010 - 8:13pm
...'s picture
... says:

I live in Spokane, Washington. I have lived her over 30 years and each summer, on the swampy end of the South Hill, I have seen Fireflies. They are smaller, Yellow-White blinking vs. the larger green blinking insects commonly seen back East, I'm orginally from Virginia. I have not seen any yet this year but in a few weeks after a good rain they should be out.
I'd would begin by looking for an area with a lot of trees and plenty of standing water near by, around dusk after it has been very muggy.

posted on Thu, 06/28/2012 - 6:38pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

9:30pm, June 25.

It rained the night of June 24 and the morning of June 25, and I found many slugs and snails in the yard on the 25th.

But I spent 20 minutes watching for fireflies, and I only saw 2. Even though the back yard is relatively free of light pollution--seriously, it's really dark out there--the sky was light. Remember, we're only a few days past the summer solstice. So maybe that has something to do with it and I should have been looking later.

As a kid growing up in Washington DC, I remember looking for fireflies at dusk. But those must have been a different species. The fireflies I'm seeing now, here in Minnesota, aren't really active (flashing) until full dark.

posted on Mon, 06/26/2006 - 12:52pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

6/27, 10pm.

One firefly flashing. I caught another one walking up the side of the house.

And earlier, around 7:30 pm, I caught one flying around in a friend's yard. (Their house is near Crosby Farm Park and the River Road.) It wasn't flashing, though. Just flying. And it looked, to my untrained eye, like the same sort of firefly I've been finding in my yard.

posted on Wed, 06/28/2006 - 12:57pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

6/29, 9:30pm

One firefly, green flash, over the grass between the sidewalk and the street. It didn't stick around long.

posted on Fri, 06/30/2006 - 11:51am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Only one lonely firefly spotted on Saturday evening (7/8), and the silly dog ate it.

None spotted since then. Maybe they know we have a firefly-eating dog? :)

posted on Wed, 07/12/2006 - 8:54am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Today is June 17th. I saw a firefly here in my back yard in Apple Valley MN!!!
All I can say is hurrah!!!

posted on Sun, 06/17/2007 - 9:35pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Journey North has a really cool firefly section on their website.

According to Journey North, fireflies ARE on the decline, due to pesticide use and loss of habitat (mowing of fields, and destruction of marshes, wetlands, bogs, and woods). They offer suggestions on how to make your yard "firefly friendly."

posted on Thu, 06/01/2006 - 1:22pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I'm outside of your survey area. But we had plenty of fireflies (or lightning bugs, as we call them) here last year. And I saw the first one this year outside my apartment about a week or so ago.

If they depend on rain, then I'm expecting a bumper crop this summer!

-- Gene (East Lansing, Michigan)

posted on Thu, 06/01/2006 - 3:41pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

A while back the museum hosted an exhibition on bioluminescence called Glow: Living Lights. As part of my learning about the content for that exhibition, I came across a number of firefly resources on the web including, The Firefly Files and this page from THE Ohio State university.

The most common reason I found for there not being many fireflies in the city is light pollution. Since they communicate with light, being in a bright area is not a good thing for them. But, it's probably a combination of all the factors Liza mentions. And its too bad, because of all the bugs, the firefly has got to be one of the coolest.

posted on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 10:44am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Fireflies glow due to bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. The light generated is the result of a chemical reaction in which chemical energy is converted to light.

You can buy bioluminescent single-celled algae known as dinoflagellates from a company called Sunny Side Sea Farms. I used to have a bunch of bags of these things, and they were really cool. Here's how their website describes them (their dinoflagellates are Pyrocystis fusiformis and they call them "Lights from the Sea"):

These tiny plants live in the ocean. They are unicellular algae, which look like delicate, beautiful, golden eyes, and produce oxygen and sugars like all plants do. In the dark, Lights From The Sea produce glowing blue light. Pyrocystis sets its bioluminescence by a biological clock (just like our sleep patterns). At sunset the cells produce the chemicals that cause a luciferin-luciferase reaction. You can see the general shape of the plant through a magnifying glass. You do not need to feed them since they use the light in your room to photosynthesize producing their own oxygen and food. Lights From The Sea can last several weeks to months. You must treat them as you would a delicate plant or a bouquet of flowers. They need light but prefer to remain between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

posted on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 1:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello, I have happened on this blog by accident. I was looking for a reason why there are almost no mosquitoes and actually almost no flying bugs of any kind around here. I lived am currently in northern Indiana but I have just returned here from Colorado. It was always very dry and windy and I always made comments to people it was very nice not to have so many bugs especially mosquitoes. Now I am back here for a short stay and repairing my motor home and I can work on it and leave the door open and only have an occasional Junebug to deal with. Where are all the bugs? I am sitting in front of a well-lit window that should be attracting moths, mosquitoes and all kinds of bugs and yet I see none. My wife and I both got congested at the same time and now the bug population seems to be even lower. I believe they are spraying at night from plans or something with out our knowledge. It is the only thing that makes sense. Anyway this is my opinion. I wonder what this stuff is doing to us?

posted on Sat, 06/03/2006 - 8:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I also happened by here on accident. My sons just caught a big jar full of lightning bugs and we were wondering what they eat. My 6 year old wants to know how they can eat slugs and things like that when they are bigger than the bugs are. Any good answers for us? We seem to have plenty of fireflies here in SW Missouri...

posted on Wed, 06/07/2006 - 8:31pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Firefly larvae can detect a snail or slug slime trail, and follow it to the prey. After locating their future meals, some kinds of fireflies inject an anesthetic-type substance through hollow ducts in the their mandibles into the slug, snail, or worm in order to immobilize and eventually digest it. Several larvae have also been seen attacking large prey, such as large earthworms. Other observations suggest larvae sometimes scavenge dead snails, worms and similar organic matter.

Adult fireflies also have mouth parts suggestive of predation (long sickle-shaped mandibles). Although it is widely known that fireflies of a few species mimic the mates of other species in order to attract and devour them, observations of adults feeding on other prey are practically non-existent. Scientists think that adults might eat plant nectar in order to sustain their energy requirements in the adult stage, which can last several months or longer.

This site has cool pictures of a firefly larva eating a snail.

posted on Thu, 06/08/2006 - 9:10am
NostalgiaHunter's picture
NostalgiaHunter says:

Last summer we noticed a few nights with fireflies in our backyard, just north of Houston Texas. About 5 years ago we stopped using pesticides and opted for natural sources to combat unwanted bugs. But we would love to provide a more favorable habitat for our firefly friends.

Does anyone know if we created some compost-like pile of wet leaves and rotting wood to attract slugs, would this increase our chances of seeing more fireflies?

I guess I am really asking is, What is the most favored food source for fireflies and how should we go about creating it in our back yard?

Thank
NostalgiaHunter

posted on Wed, 06/07/2006 - 8:39pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The Firefly Files have some tips for making your yard more firefly-friendly:

  1. Don't use chemicals on your lawn. If you must, use less.
  2. Reduce the ambient light on your property. It interferes with their communication and ability to tell time (which is important since some species are only active during certain hours of the evening).
  3. Low overhanging trees, tall grass, and other vegetation will provide cool spots for fireflies to rest during the day. (Unfortunately, these are also good spots for mosquitoes to rest, so make sure you're emptying all standing water if you decide to do this.)

This page has tips for ridding your garden of slugs. Seems like if you turned a few of these tips on their heads, you might see populations of firefly prey increase.

Sounds like you've already taken some of these steps. No guarantees, of course, but they should help bring fireflies to your yard.

posted on Thu, 06/08/2006 - 9:22am
bryan kennedy's picture

Well, I live in Saint Paul right next to a big field bordered with some small woods (right across the street from the Saint Paul Cathedral). I haven't seen even a single firefly.

I grew up in Nashville, TN and can remember seeing hundreds in my front yard as the sunset. I can't say I have ever see numbers like that up here in Minnesota, but my fond memories of childhood might be distorting my scientific observations.

posted on Wed, 06/07/2006 - 11:25pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here's a fun experiment to do if you live in a place with lots of fireflies.

  1. Find a clean jar or plastic container with a lid. Get an adult to help you punch air holes in the lid.
  2. Gently catch fireflies and put them in the container.
  3. Observe your captives. Count the number of flashes, how long they last, and the time between flashes. Continue for 5 minutes. Record your data.
  4. Return to your capture site and gently release your fireflies. Wait one hour, and return to the same site. Catch some more fireflies and repeat your observations.

If you notice a different flashing sequence, you've probably caught a different species.

posted on Thu, 06/08/2006 - 8:29am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

And here's a cool project based on John Schimmel's memories of firefly experiences as a kid:

"Fireflies are networked nightlights for a local environment, the jars can be placed in different bedrooms or other spots around a home so people can communicate with one another through simply tapping on the jars. For example, if you tap the jar in your bedroom you will pulse the colored fireflies associated with that jar. The neighboring jars in your home will receive and pulse your taps, record them and then play them back. The neighboring jars can respond with their own tapping and broadcast themselves to the nightlights in the home.
While a person is tapping the jar, they are in a broadcast mode where they get approximately 4 seconds of tap time and the other jars are in listening mode, again, for approximately 4 seconds *. After the 4 seconds is up there all the jars play back the recorded taps they have received. It's a firefly jam session.

Fireflies work using radio frequency (RF) which broadcasts only when a jar is being tapped. The RF works nice in a home because it does not need to rely on an existing network infrastructure, a jar simply sends as far as it can for each tap, usually 400 feet, and any jar in that radius will most likely receive the message.

The nightlights work well even without their friends, as a standalone, the jar has enough character to create a presence that does not need to react or broadcast to others and can simple be a piece of a room."


"Firefly" nightlights: (Photo courtesy John Schimmel)

Check out the step-by-step instructions for making this great set of networked nightlights.

posted on Thu, 06/08/2006 - 8:36am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

No fireflies in your yard? Catch some virtual ones.

posted on Thu, 06/08/2006 - 9:06am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The firefly's flame

Is something for which science has no name.

I can think of nothing eerier

Than flying around with an unidentified glow on a person's posterior.

--Ogden Nash

posted on Thu, 06/08/2006 - 9:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I actually found this site because I was trying to figure out why we have more lightning bugs (fire-flys) this year than ever before. I'm just north of Atlanta, GA and right now, my back yard looks like Las Vegas. There are literally thousands of them out there flashing away. Never seen anything like this. What's interesting is that it's been very dry here. In fact, my little creek has just about dried up, but there are more lighting bugs than ever!

posted on Sun, 06/11/2006 - 10:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I'm in the city of Atlanta and found this site for the same reason - I've lived in my home for 20 years and I've never seen as many fire-flys as I saw two nights ago - I got home late last night and did not sit on the deck. We've had a very dry spring and I do occasionally spray with Yard Guard to control the mosquitoes - have used it two or three times this year. The mosquitoe population also seems to be down, or at least late appearing, but the dry weather would help explain that. Someone told me recently (a teacher) that fire-flys eat mosquitoes, which I was also trying to find information on. Any thoughts???

posted on Fri, 06/16/2006 - 9:56am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I've done a lot of research lately about fireflies, and I haven't come across a single reference to them eating mosquitoes. (Do you have bats or dragonflies? They're CHAMPION eaters of mosquitoes.) Now, we know that some fireflies are predators, and we haven't observed many adult fireflies feeding, so I suppose it's possible. But I don't think it's likely.

posted on Fri, 06/16/2006 - 10:51am
Jimmy's picture
Jimmy says:

I don't know much about fireflies, Liza, but here are a couple things maybe you could check out:

1] You could temporarily catch some fireflies and keep them in an environment with or without mosquitoes and see if the mosquitoes are eaten!

2] Find several places where fireflies live and see if they are also places frequented by mosquitoes. This would clue you in to a possible relationship between the two insects.

3] Adopt a firefly and name it Josephine. Keep Josephine with a misquito and see if the mosquito is devoured.

Good luck - Jimmy

posted on Fri, 06/16/2006 - 11:27am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Jimmy, these are great suggestions. It's a good science fair project!

However, I'm the writer of the original post, and I haven't seen even ONE firefly in the last few years. So I'm not really in a position to experiment.

But maybe some of our posters from Michigan or Georgia or Missouri, where they seem to have lots of fireflies, can report back...

One other thing: I think that you're very likely to find mosquitoes and fireflies in the same areas. Both like to rest in vegetation during the day, and both need damp environments during their early stages. But that doesn't mean that one eats the other. After all, bears and wolves share the same environment and are both predators, but they don't eat each other, right?

posted on Fri, 06/16/2006 - 11:33am
Catherine's picture
Catherine says:

In 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were lots of fireflies near us - we live near the river outside of Philadelphia. then last year there seemed to be less and this year hardly any so far. In fact, so few that I googled to see if I could find out the reason for such a lack of abundance b/c in 2001 there were so many we were bowled over. Must be a combination of factors, including weather glitches. I was thinking that the birds may be more abundant and eating them all.

posted on Tue, 06/20/2006 - 8:41pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hmmmm...this is an interesting theory.

But if birds are eating the fireflies, they must be eating them during the day. Most birds don't feed overnight, when fireflies are most active.

posted on Wed, 07/12/2006 - 8:56am
Luciola's picture
Luciola says:

Hi
I´m from a far country.

I´m really liking to read your news and reports about fireflies.
Keep on the good work and enjoy it, they are truly amazing!

Regards,
L.

posted on Tue, 06/20/2006 - 11:27pm
Lynn B. Elliott's picture
Lynn B. Elliott says:

I live in a northwestern suburb of Philadelphia and usually see lightning bugs early to mid-June, this year is no exception.

My backyard has been aglow these past few weeks. I have lived in the same town most of my 60 years and, though the lightning bug population has gone up and down, it seems to be holding its own.

I go organic all the way; I think that that makes a difference; my neighbor's yard, non-organic, doesn't seem to sparkle as much as mine.

I really appreciate the photo of the larva; I had a discussion about lightning bug larvae with my bug expert organic farmer son about their appearance, seems he was correct as usual.

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 3:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This gave me exactly what i need

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 9:33pm
Liz's picture
Liz says:

I came across this site while looking for an answer to the following question.

I live in Buffalo, New York, but grew up in Southern Indiana where I spent many a summer night catching lightning bugs and putting them in mayo jars. Ever since I have lived in Buffalo I have wondered why are there no lightning bugs here?

Thank you.

posted on Sun, 06/25/2006 - 9:12pm
miss trixi's picture
miss trixi says:

Greetings-
I just want to share that there IS hope of a growing, glowing population again.
We have a family cabin in Wisc. that's not far from the state line into Minnesota. The cabin is next to a marsh on the edge of a lake. It's in a very rural area, so there's virtually no light polution. We stay around the same time every year, so what I witnessed this year made me very happy.
Our first few years out of the last 12 we saw fireflys abound, then they all but vanished. This past year, there was a population explosion! On a starry night, you could hardly tell where the horizon was, there were sparkling lights from ground to sky. This was the largest amount of firefly's I had ever seen. I spent my childhood Summers living on a lake in Minnesota (rather, IN the lake from sun up to sun down), so I have had my share of fireflys in my life. I had spent the last few years lamenting over the loss of these amazing insects, so what I saw a few weeks ago made my heart sing with delight. All of the people in our group went out onto the lake the first night and silently watched for at least half an hour, they were so abundent and amazing.
I hope many of you get to witness this kind of delight this Summer.
trix

posted on Tue, 06/27/2006 - 10:34pm
Auben's picture
Auben says:

I found your site after wanting to research fireflies....last night we were in Lexington Ohio (Mid Ohio) and saw miles and miles of fields a glow with the beautiful twinkle of them!!! It was AMAZING!!! I have never seen anything like the shining display.... better than ANY Fireworks we will see this 4th of July!!!
I hope everyone who loves these little creatures can experience this show someday!!!
Enjoy your summer!!

posted on Sun, 07/02/2006 - 5:37pm
Anne's picture
Anne says:

Firefly sitings. Reasonable number of fireflies in the woods near my townhouse in Eagan July 2001, 2002. Have since moved to house in Apple Valley. I live across from a park and have a fairly "wild" backyard with tall grass but alas not much in the way of low-hanging tree branches - have seen small number of fireflies July 2003, 2004, 2005. So far this year (2006) - just one firefly in my backyard or along the side of my porch. But, I am also often not able to sit outside and observe during the critical hours of the night.

I did see rather more fireflies at my parent's house in Rochester. They live in a very woodsy neighborhood with an abundance of low-hanging tree branches. I distinctly remember a large number of fireflies on July 4th, 2003 - the last holiday I was in Rochester. We were lighting sparklers in the driveway and the fireflies kept flying up to the sparklers, perhaps trying to mate with them.

However, none of the Minnesota sitings compare with the fireflies I remember as a child on vacation in Massachusetts and upstate New York (this would have been the 1970s). I remember quite a light display in a meadow environment (with water present) on these occasions. Even that was probably not at the level my mom remembers (during her Massachusetts childhood in the 1950s) when she could regularly fill a mason jar with the critters simply by running around the yard scooping up fireflies.

posted on Mon, 07/03/2006 - 3:44am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

July 13 firefly hunt at Maplewood Nature Center for kids ages 3 to 8. Registration deadline is today, July 6. Cost is $3 per child. Time is 8:30 to 10 pm. Sorry for this late notice. It was in this mornings paper. Call 651-249-2170. The center is at 2659 E. Seventh St. Adult needs to accompany kids.

posted on Thu, 07/06/2006 - 10:21am
Dan's picture
Dan says:

Where can I purchase fireflies or firefly larva? My children have never seen them before. If anyone knows where or how I can purchase them that would be wonderful Thanks, Dan

posted on Sun, 07/09/2006 - 11:50pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I just found this amazing Washington Post article (which made me incredibly homesick and nostalgic). Buried in there is the answer to your question:

"You can't buy fireflies the way you can acquire, say, ladybugs."

A quick internet search seems to back that statement up: I found no fireflies being offered for sale. Perhaps because they don't have any commercial applications?

Terry Lynch, of Project Firefly, suggests that you can raise fireflies at home, but you have to catch them first. And that's the problem for a lot of us...

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 11:19am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I stand corrected! Well, maybe... (Yahoo! Answers isn't the most reliable source of information.)

The post says to try godofinsects.com: you can get 12 live fireflies for $40 during June and July. At more than $3.30 per firefly, they better put on a good show!

I also found a post on "The Nature of Our Garden" (fireflies) that reads:

"I purchased a children's book (junior high level) in a thrift store which is very interesting: Fireflies in Nature and the Laboratory by Lynn & Gray Poole, 1965, Thomas Y. Crowell Co, NY. it contains information on collecting and selling fireflies to The Johns Hopkins University. Other companies that buy them are: Sigma Chemical Co., Worthington Biochemical Co and Schwartz Bio-Research Co. 'Scientists need fireflies so they can learn what makes them light up. This will help explain how living things store and use energy. Also, the firefly's lighting system can be used by biochemists in many kinds of important research.' ($$$$) Personally I think these scientists should learn to raise the insects they need for their "important research" themselves and not steal them from Mother Nature."

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 11:35am
Lisa's picture
Lisa says:

We saw several fireflies last night in our backyard in Minnetonka, MN. The surprising thing is that we have lived in this house for 16 years, and this is the first time I have noticed them. My son says he has seen them somewhat regularly (of course, he "sleeps out" on the screened porch almost every night during the summer). We live in a heavily wooded area near a fresh water pond (stream fed). The fireflies I saw were in the woods, but not far from the lawn clearing. It was wonderful and magical.

posted on Wed, 07/12/2006 - 7:30pm
lucia's picture
lucia says:

cool, I've never seen them

posted on Thu, 07/13/2006 - 9:17am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

There's plenty of them up in Canada!

posted on Thu, 07/13/2006 - 3:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Where in Canada. I have heard not only can you see fireflies in Terrace but also the Northern Lights, now that is a great double feature. Is this true northern BC residents?

posted on Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have seen fireflies this summer in my backyard near bushes july 14,2006 at night

posted on Fri, 07/14/2006 - 8:53pm
Mom and Daughter's picture
Mom and Daughter says:

Just last night my mom and I were sitting outside and we saw a firefly, that brought up the question were do they go. We realized we only see them in the summer or just 2 months, were we live we get them every year but not all through the years. Does anyone know where they go after the few months we get them?

Thank you,
The Daughter

posted on Thu, 07/20/2006 - 1:55pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Adult fireflies live only two weeks or so--just long enough to mate, really. After mating, females lay eggs in the soil, and the larvae hatch soon after. Those crazy-looking creatures are probably out in your yard all summer.

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 11:38am
Rblain's picture
Rblain says:

I live in Northeast Indiana (Ft wayne). I can remember in the 60's chasing fireflies in the evening as child. There were always multitudes of magical green luminescent twinkling lights every summer evening throughout the neighborhood. They were everywhere.

Once, about 15 years ago, I was camping at a state park and we watched as it seemed like a million fire flies were blinking on and off in unison. What a sight!

This evening (8-20-06), a warm summer night, I thought that I'd go outside and have a drink on the patio. I sat there for a while and slowly realized that weren't any fireflies at all. Thinking back, I don't recall any last year either. Not to mention, there have been far fewer butterflies too. Very depressing and disturbing.

posted on Sat, 08/19/2006 - 9:05pm
Luciola's picture
Luciola says:

Hi

I guess it´s too late to observe firefly adult display now.
Only some ocasional ones ( out of season) still do it.
I don´t know which species live there, only some species like photinus, phryxotryx... , I don´t live in America and I´m not from there, but I usually read firefly american reports, in late May, June and July. Am I wrong? So most adults, on August already, laid eggs, died and completed their life cycle.
On this time it´s possible to observe firefly larvae glowing at night, on wet conditions, though.
You just need to know, where to search and to be patient in detecting it. Then when you see their glow, you´ll feel more confortable.
Good luck! :)

posted on Thu, 08/31/2006 - 8:37pm
Abby's picture
Abby says:

Here in Winston- Salem, North Carolina I see fire flies what seems like all sumer and me and my friends catch them all the time. It seems like they swarm our back-yard because you can easily catch 10 after about five minutes. I think that fireflies are amazing!

posted on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 7:38pm
Luciola's picture
Luciola says:

Hi

And you have seen them ( firefly adults) in this time of the year?
I thought it would only be possible to see larvae.

I agree with you they are truly astonishing!

posted on Sun, 01/28/2007 - 3:30pm
Terry of  Anderson, Ca.'s picture
Terry of Anderson, Ca. says:

My wife and I are planning a cross-country trip with our travel trailer in the near future and are much interested in seeing fireflies in "action". We will be passing through several midwestern states are were wondering where and what time of the season would they be most plentiful to observe. Thank You kindly for any information.

posted on Mon, 03/05/2007 - 10:03pm
Andy Davidson's picture

I am extremely interested in any research, or possibility of research, into firefly performance under various electromagnetic fields. Does the light pulse frequency change, or the colour, or the ability to light up?

This would be an interesting comparison with animal studies showing enzyme stimulation for the production of nitric oxide, which is part of the firely mechanism, and may have a bearing also on honeybee decline in certain areas.

http://www.hese-project.org/hese-uk/en/issues/nature.php?id=bees

You can also contact me direct via the above website.

posted on Fri, 03/09/2007 - 5:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yea thats all nice what you guys are saying. but you never answer THE IMPORTANT QUESTION:
where Can We Buy/Purchase Fireflies??

posted on Tue, 03/20/2007 - 2:30am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Fireflies, like butterflies, are free. ;-)

posted on Tue, 03/20/2007 - 9:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Bees are also disappearing
Scientists are very worried
It could be due to the proliferation of microwave radiaiton from the 1000's of cell phone towers now covering the whole country.
See the web site for research articles

posted on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:04pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hmmmm.

Yes, bee populations are crashing.

Marla Spivak, entomologist and bee/Varroa mite researcher, was our featured "Scientist on the Spot" in July and August of 2005. Read about her research, and check out the Q&A feature.

Thor posted "To bee or not to bee," about the more general causes of the honeybee decline, on March 2, 2007.

I read your post, and looked at the cited web site, but I'm not convinced microwave radiation from cell phone towers is the culprit. While it's true that electromagnetic radiation from microwaves, radar, television, etc, has increased immensely since the 1940s, the amount of electromagnetic radiation from man-made sources is still tiny, tiny, tiny compared to the amount of natural electromagnetic radiation we're exposed to.

Ionizing radiation is the dangerous kind; it's powerful enough to knock electrons loose from atoms (including those in DNA) as it passes through our bodies. Ultraviolet light is ionizing radiation; too much exposure can cause skin cancer. X rays and gamma rays are also ionizing; too many X ray exams can cause organ cancers. A full 80% of the ionizing radiation we're exposed to comes from natural sources (especially radon). Almost all the rest of our ionizing radiation exposure comes from medical imaging. Microwaves, radio waves, and infrared and visible light--non-ionizing radiation--cannot cause cellular damage.

But I'm not a scientist. And I wondered if perhaps electromagnetic radiation might influence insects differently than it does people. So I forwarded your post to Marla Spivak, at the University of Minnesota, and asked her to weigh in. Her reply?

"Hi Liza,
There are so many problems affecting bees (diseases, mites, pollination contracts and stress of moving bees long distances, drought, pesticides) that electromagnetic fields seem to be way down on the list. I have no data and no of no data, but my guess is that electromag is NOT the cause of this years loss of honey bees. See our web site: on the home page I have posted an article.

Best, Marla"

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 10:59am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Now the internet is a-Buzz with bee disappearance theories. It's the rapture! No, it's the Earth's magnetic field! No, it's Keven Federline! (That's my favorite one...)

The upshot? No one knows yet what's causing Colony Collapse Disorder. But a lot of bee researchers are trying to figure it out.

posted on Wed, 05/02/2007 - 2:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I don't bee-leve it!!!

posted on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've noticed that there are more fireflies in west america then here in minnesota.

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 2:30pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Really? Where? All the sources I could find said that flashing fireflies really live only east of central Kansas.

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 3:01pm
kapila mahesh's picture
kapila mahesh says:

i am srilankan univercity student. now i am doing research about fireflies i wish to shair my data with you please give me oppotunity and reply me

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 11:08pm
kelip's picture
kelip says:

Hi..

i'm doing a research on fireflies in Malaysia..hope we can share many things about fireflies.

posted on Sun, 05/27/2007 - 8:09pm
steven's picture
steven says:

oyo bowan

I'd love to see the data

posted on Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:08am
Hank Roberts's picture
Hank Roberts says:

When I moved from N.C./Virginia to Washington State and later California, I asked why no fireflies.

Answer: they reproduce in the South, and need the humid environment of the Southeast during the summer and fall; they can't reproduce in desert conditions in the Southwest.

Once, in North Carolina, as a kid, I got to see a firefly larva, a "glowworm" (and my dad, who grew up in Georgia and saw them there and places deeper South all the time when he was a kid, sang us "Glow Little Glow-Worm" to help me remember it). It was a pale yellow-green glowing white caterpillar, basically, that turned up underneath something like a board in the yard.

Possibly their range has moved northward since the 1940s, as things have warmed up.

But they don't have any breeding populations in places where they can't reproduce in warm humid summertime conditions. No West Coast fireflies.

posted on Sun, 04/15/2007 - 8:15pm
Don's picture
Don says:

were is the best recsearch material on firefly?

posted on Mon, 05/07/2007 - 6:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My neighbor and I spotted a few fireflies late last night in Coon Rapids, at the edge of a wooded area. I don't recall ever seeing them this early in the year, and wonder if the very warm weather we've had encouraged them to come out.

posted on Tue, 05/15/2007 - 10:11am
Paul's picture
Paul says:

I grew up in Kansas, and spent many summer evenings at my grandparents house in Eastern Kansas catching fireflies in the evening, and of course letting them go in the morning. The statement that they aren't found West of central Kansas isn't correct. I live (or did anyway) in Greensburg and worked in Dodge City, and some evenings by the time I got to work, the front of my car, and the windshield would be glowing from running into them on the drive. In particular what's called the "Ford bend" a long gradual curve to the West just north of Ford, Ks. would be aglow with them.

I live in the Wichita area now, and the other evening I went to the store in Derby, and on the way back, the ditches and fields were positively sparkling with all the fireflies. There is a small creek that runs through the area, and a couple of fallow fields that give them a perfect place to live. So far I've only seen a few in my yard in Oaklawn, but hopefully they will be showing up more frequently soon.

posted on Sun, 05/20/2007 - 8:58pm
Luciola's picture
Luciola says:

I like very much to read your reports.
Keep on the reporting I´m doing the same here in my country : Portugal.
I wish you all have an excellent firefly year!!

posted on Mon, 05/21/2007 - 8:42am
Wes's picture
Wes says:

Quite a busy night for fireflies in Austin last night... not a huge amount, but I'd guess several dozen as we sat out on our greenbelt porch last night. Some in our backyard, more in our neighbors, and quite a few out by the oaks in the greenbelt.

Of note, it's been raining a lot and was quite humid. I have to wonder if it didn't help kick up the earthworm and slug activity (I've seen both in the past couple of days) - was neat to see them, as I haven't since we lived in Kentucky for a bit as a child.

posted on Sun, 05/27/2007 - 6:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have seen fireflies at my cabin. They are the best at night when you are having a camp fire. Josh

posted on Sun, 05/27/2007 - 2:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My mother had a home southeast of Philadelphia in a ruralish area. She had open grassy fields surrounded by woods all around her house. Every year that she had the fields mowed regularly there were a fair amount but not a lot of fireflies. The first year she decided not to mow there were so many it looked as if the trees had Christmas lights put in them. We watched them rise up out of the fields shortly after dark and go into the trees. Initially we thought it was due to rain, but each year after she waited until late July to mow, there was always a spectacular display, rivalling fireworks. I noticed in my own neighbourhood west of DC that the fireflies were lovely until the mowers came by into our neighbourhood. While rain seems to have an effect, watering the area doesn't hurt either and mowing the grass has a seriously bad effect.

posted on Sat, 06/02/2007 - 4:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

A co-worker told me this week that she had heard/read (don't remember) something recently that fireflys were going extinct because we are putting way to much light in our yards at night. Is this true? I just had my first child and would hate that by the time she is old enough to catch fireflys they don't exist anymore.

posted on Sat, 06/02/2007 - 12:58pm
Luciola's picture
Luciola says:

It´s true that light pollution can disturb them.
See what happens on this small video when someone turn the light on.
(The female goes to hide immediately and then males can´t see her.)

posted on Sun, 06/10/2007 - 9:19pm
Paige's picture
Paige says:

I have lived in a suburb of Houston called The Woodlands for the past nine years. I had never seen a firefly here until last week. Since then, I've seen two or three more. I grew up not far from here and there were lots of fireflies every year when I was a child. We stopped seeing them in any number in my hometown at least 20 years ago. Until last year, The Woodlands sprayed for mosquitos but they decided to stop. It made me wonder if that was why the fireflies returned.

posted on Mon, 06/04/2007 - 8:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I haven't seen any fireflies since 2005. Did not see a single one in summer 2006 and I haven't seen any yet the start of this summer. In my area I usually start to see them in May or June. Someone said on another site that there may be too much artificial lights and it messes them up-they can't tell the difference. I don't doubt that. People have too many lights on at night. It's scary that not only are bees disappearing-now the fireflies. What is really going on?? Oh by the way, so far I saw one bee the other day.

posted on Wed, 06/13/2007 - 7:03pm
J R's picture
J R says:

I just saw possibly hundreds of fireflies. It started around 9:20 and lasted for about 20 minutes. The temperature is 74 degrees 5 miles northeast of Green Bay,Wisconsin near the bay shore.
I did not see any last year,so this is already better than last year for viewing them.

posted on Wed, 06/13/2007 - 8:39pm
Dragonfly's picture
Dragonfly says:

I saw a single firefly aka lightning bug behind out shop (place we store tool and junk) The firefly was actually lighting up bright. more of a blue white color instead of yellow green, It was also flying low to the ground. It was pitch black outside I would estimate about maybe 9:30 pm cst I believe not positive. I am hoping to find a way to get the fireflies to multiply but with only seeing one that would be difficult

posted on Wed, 06/13/2007 - 9:21pm
D.D.'s picture
D.D. says:

Anybody know where a good place to find fireflies in the Twin Cities area might be? Perhaps a lake nearby...I am new to the area and would love to sit outside and watch for some.

posted on Wed, 06/13/2007 - 9:22pm
jimh's picture
jimh says:

I have seen them at Ft. Snelling State Park. Follow the path from the visitor center toward Pike Island.

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 2:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in coastal NH and just saw one lonely firefly- which is what made me google '"what happened to all the fireflies" I also remember tons of fireflies when I was young and now I never see them. I live on a farm so I am out every night after dark year round to make sure everything is shut in. I have wondered what has happened to them for a long time.

posted on Sun, 06/17/2007 - 7:27pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Some recent firefly sightings:

Waukesha, Wisconsin, June 14
Chicago, Illinois, June 17
Lansing, Michigan, June 19

(Yes, I've been travelling -- can't you tell? ;-)

posted on Wed, 06/20/2007 - 1:20pm
Todd's picture
Todd says:

We live in southeastern Pa- Amish country. When we first moved here 6 years ago we had as many lightning bugs as I was used to growing up in a nearby city. They population seemed to decline drastically and suddenly about 2 years ago. We also don't have as many June bugs or crickets as we did then. The possiblity of this being connected to the bees dissappearing is very interesting. Hopefully we can figure out what's up soon.

posted on Sat, 06/23/2007 - 10:12pm
Kates Mom's picture
Kates Mom says:

Me and my daughters just went out side tonight and have so far caught 5 fireflys and they both want to keep them forever. The population seems fine out here, we've been catching them with plastic target bags. I guess they'll save some money off the electric bill since there nightlights are turned off tonight!

posted on Tue, 07/03/2007 - 10:14pm
Kates Mom's picture
Kates Mom says:

Oh sorry, I live in Albertville, Minnesota!

posted on Tue, 07/03/2007 - 10:15pm
California Girl's picture
California Girl says:

I'm hoping to take my 9 yr old daughter to see/catch fireflies at my sister's house just north of Chicago. Unfortunately, we can't go until the end of August. Will there still be fireflies then?? How long are they around??

posted on Thu, 07/12/2007 - 4:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We had lots of fireflies about a month ago in Richmond, MI. We were outside tonight lighting sparklers and hoping to catch a few fireflies - but didn't see any. We've been going through quite a dry spell lately. We were wondering if they have a short hatch period or are they around all summer.

posted on Sun, 07/15/2007 - 9:02pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I was up at my parent's cabin on Whitefish lake a couple of weeks ago and saw a couple of fireflies on the bank. It had been a number of years since I had seen fireflies - it was mesmerizing.

posted on Wed, 07/18/2007 - 7:22am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in WI where I have noted a recent lack of FF but on a recent trip to New York City I was in some urban gardens and in Central Park and was just wowed by the number of fireflies that were around (hence my visit to this site) . I hate to say it but city lights did not seem to be inhibiting the presence of FF in NYC. I see only a few in my WI back yard.

posted on Mon, 07/23/2007 - 6:57pm
Matt Kenney's picture
Matt Kenney says:

I've been seeing the fireflies every night for the past week here in Central Nebraska. Interestingly they are hordes of them this year, but rarely saw any the last 3 years. They're really interesting to watch this year since there are literally hundreds of them flying around at dusk each night.

posted on Tue, 07/24/2007 - 8:26pm
Nate Harris's picture
Nate Harris says:

I've seen 2 fireflies so far this year in La Crosse WI. I'm wondering if perhaps those japanese beetles aren't eating the all the firefly larvae?

posted on Wed, 07/25/2007 - 6:25am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hmmmm...
Interesting theory. I have noticed a lot of Japanese beetles this summer. But there are two problems with it:

  1. First, "Japanese beetle" is a common name. Follow the link: is this the kind of beetle you mean?
  2. And second, Japanese beetles of the sort I mean when I say "Japanese beetles" only eat plants, not other insects.
posted on Wed, 07/25/2007 - 8:56am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have no idea. I haven't seen fireflies in a while. Last time: at a Cousins' Camp

posted on Wed, 07/25/2007 - 10:44am
Joan's picture
Joan says:

I live in Northeast Pa. Susquehanna County. This is a very rural area with very little light pollution. The fireflies are abundant here. This year I first saw them on June 2, 2007. It is now August 5, 2007 and they can still be seen, but the numbers are dwindling. As the high grass and weeds are cut down the numbers drop, so I keep the grass around the house cut and let the rest grow. It is a small price to pay for the beauty of the fireflies. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting out at night and watching the fireflies. I can ususlly see them from dusk till around 3:00 am sometimes later.

posted on Sun, 08/05/2007 - 7:53pm
Intruder's picture
Intruder says:

I've live in New Mexico for over 40 years and I don't ever recall many - if any - Lightingbugs here. I did grow up in northern New Jersey and as a kid, what great shows we had in our yard every summer.

I've been trying to find Lightningbugs for sale for a one time experience for my Grandchildren, I guess they are just not available, It would be nice to establish a population somewhere here - they really are one of nature's wonders.

Sorry I'm not more familiar with the ethics of such a thing.

posted on Sun, 08/05/2007 - 8:09pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

As noted earlier, fireflies are not native to the western half of the United States. Common in the east, they peter out around the middle of the Great Plains.

posted on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 8:18pm
Betsy's picture
Betsy says:

I live in northern New Jersey and have seen a decline in fire flies in the last few years, that's why I went looking for an answer and found this website. We have a few in our back yard this summer, but nothing like in past years. We do use some chemicals on our lawn, but have very natural woods behind our house. Northern Jersey has been wet this summer, so there should be enough slugs and other food sources for the larvae. In past years I have seen hundreds on a summer evening, this year, only a few. I hope it is just a natural cycle and not something more serious. I've enjoyed reading the comments from all over the country.

posted on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 8:24pm
Paul's picture
Paul says:

I grew up in Pennsylvania in the 70's and, while I realize this is purely anecdotal, I remember fireflies by the thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) in EVERY open area on nearly EVERY summer evening all across the state. We also traveled regularly to the beach in New Jersey and to other locations throughout the northeast and I VIVIDLY recall the same scene wherever we went during the summer months. I now work as a wildlife biologist and travel extensively on the east coast conducting field work. I am very alarmed that I rarely see fireflies AT ALL anymore and, in fact, have not seen one firefly so far this year between Maryland and Maine. Call me an alarmist, but I think it's pretty clear that it ain't like it used to be, and I am concerned that they are truly in decline. You know the ecosystem is stressed when we start losing some of the things that were once exceedingly common.

posted on Sat, 08/11/2007 - 7:46pm
DEB in Connecticut's picture
DEB in Connecticut says:

I REMEMBER VERY WELL SEEING FIREFLIES EVERYNIGHT IN THE SUMMER, DIDN'T HAVE TO LOOK...THEY WERE JUST THERE GLOWING THEIR MAGIC. I LIVED IN A SMALL CONDO COMMUNITY FOR 5-6 YEARS IN THE LATE 80's AND OUT BACK FROM MY PORCH/DECK THERE WERE TALL GRASSES WHERE I WOULD SEE HUNDREDS, THOUSANDS? EVERY NIGHT. THAT WOULD PUT ME IN MY MID 20's. I REMEMBER AS A KID SEEING THIS MANY AS WELL. IT WAS A GRAND SIGHT THAT I'VE BEEN MISSING VERY MUCH AND SAD THAT MY DAUGHTER WHO IS NOW 10 HAS NOT SEEN HAD THIS GREAT TREAT. WE LIVE IN A SUBURBAN AREA WITH A SMALL LAKE IN OUR BACK YARD WITH CAT TAILS ALONG ONE SIDE, I'D ALWAYS THOUGHT IT SHOULD BE A GREAT SPOT FOR THE FIREFLIES AND HAVE BEEN HERE 14 YEARS NOW AND HAVE SEEN ONLY AN OCCASIONAL LONE ONE DANCING IN THE DARK.

posted on Sat, 09/01/2007 - 8:35pm
firerballone's picture
firerballone says:

Hi we live about 60 miles north of st paul. We had lots of fire flies when we first moved up here, about 25 years ago,but the last four years we haven't seen any, nothing has changed on our acreage. firerballone

posted on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 3:57pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Vanishing fireflies make an appearance in The Straight Dope.

posted on Fri, 08/31/2007 - 9:23am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I am so THRILLED that, independently, I came up with a bunch of the same factors that Cecil Adams did.

Perhaps I *am* employable outside the Science Museum! :)

posted on Fri, 08/31/2007 - 9:58am
Luciola's picture
Luciola says:

Hi
Someone told that fireflies aren´t native to the west side of the Rockies, but that´s not really true, since California also has some fireflies, but much less than in the east.

posted on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 4:53pm
Luciola's picture
Luciola says:

Hi Liza

I made a mistake on my post ( also known as typo lol): I meant to say « than in the east» not « then in the east».
Could you correct it?
Thanks. :)

posted on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 8:29pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Done. :)

posted on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 8:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

looking for fireflies to purchase for commercial in atlanta
georgia are they available this itme of year?

posted on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 11:36am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I think you'll find it extremely difficult (and very expensive) to buy fireflies ANY time of year.

A Google search in April, 2007, (posted earlier in this thread) turned up only a single potential retail source of fireflies: godofinsects.com. You could only purchase them during June and July, and you could expect to pay $40 for 12 live fireflies.

As for catching them yourself, or hiring someone to do it for you...I don't know what the firefly season is in Atlanta, but here in Minnesota, we expect to see the insects around the 4th of July.

posted on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 2:13pm
Annett's picture
Annett says:

I have homes in California and Pennsylvania and have had conversations with people in both state about there being no more fire flies. I have not seen one in California for years at least a decade but I live in the city of LA. I remeber seeing them as a kid all the time in LA but now there is nothing. In Pennsylvania where my other home is located it is in a very heavily wooded area and we are always out there in july and everyone says the same thing no fireflies in years. I am glad we are not the only ones who have noticed. I wonder what other creatures have disappeared unnoticed.

posted on Sun, 11/25/2007 - 10:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I grew up around los angeles, the san fernando valley area, and I have never seen a firefly. There was a wild, swampy area I used to go on warm spring and summer nights which should have been perfect for them but never saw any. My parents grew up back east and told me stories about the fireflies there, so I really wanted to see some.

posted on Mon, 02/18/2008 - 4:43pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

According to The Firefly Files,

"If you live in the United States, west of about the middle of Kansas, you are not apt to have the flashing type of fireflies in your area. Although some isolated sightings of luminous fireflies have been reported from time to time from regions of the western U.S., fireflies that glow are typically not found west of Kansas. The reason for this phenomenon is not known."

posted on Fri, 02/22/2008 - 3:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Summer 2007 was the first time we definitely saw a decline in the amount of lightning bugs fluttering about in central Indiana. Will there ever be a definitive answer as to why?

posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 8:46pm
Jim Chrisman's picture

I live in Fremont, Nebraska and the fireflies are thick in my yard but are non existent in the rest of my neighborhood. I am also the only home owner with dandilions in my yard and the others hate me. I Use No Chemicals!!!!!!! It is very apparent to me what is happening to the fireflies. Perhaps I should charge admission to my summer time backyard beautiful show.

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 12:01pm
Ashlea J.'s picture
Ashlea J. says:

I was actually looking for questions on why I had fireflies around my area when I came across this. I've been living in this area for 4 years now and have never seen fireflies up until now. My family and I have been oohing and awing over them for the last week or so. I'm not quite sure what kind we have, but I wouldn't be able to tell even if I had pictures of all of the many different species. I was just wondering if it meant anything. We haven't had a lot of mosquitoes this year, at least not yet, but we seem to have an abundance of fireflies.

posted on Sun, 05/18/2008 - 8:10pm
Qmaus's picture
Qmaus says:

What area are you in, Ashlea?

I grew up in California and NEVER saw a firefly there, but that's already been hashed over here. I remember, however, as a teen I spent a summer in the Washington, DC area and went camping one weekend and saw fireflies like crazy (this was around 1986-ish). It was great.

Anyway, so now I'm living in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia (Martinsburg), which is fairly close to Washington, DC. I've been living here for two years now and haven't seen any fireflies, but I don't get out much, so that doesn't surprise me.

I would absolutely LOVE to take an evening trip somewhere nearby this summer where my wife and I can just hang out and watch tons of fireflies, but I don't know exactly where to go to find a good population. Would you (or anyone else that reads this) have any suggestions for me?

It's creeping up on mid-June, so I figure there's got to be some activity somewhere in this area soon (if not already!) for this year.

Any suggestions or help that anyone can offer would be lovely. Thank you!

posted on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 7:36pm
Amanda's picture
Amanda says:

I am from Califonia and I had never seen a firelies. Now been here for a couple of years I got to see a lot in WI. I hope that every one gets to see these things they are amazing.

posted on Sat, 06/14/2008 - 6:44pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

First firefly sighting of the season for mid-Michigan: approx. 9 pm, Saturday, June 14, Lansing.

posted on Sat, 06/14/2008 - 9:56pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I haven't see nearly as many fireflys as i used to when i was younger. I live in Maine and this past weekend was camping.. out in the woods not at a campground and saw maybe 10 fireflys, this seems very weird to me.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 4:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I was out on SW Minnesota this last weekend. I saw hundreds of Fireflies! It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! There was a pond and alot of land. They stayed many yards from the house but when you got away from the house lights what a show. I found this page on accident.

We caught a jarfull and watched them like a nightlight and then released them in the morning so that they wouldn't die. Someone told me that if you go on the internet you could buy a whole colony and release them in your area. Has anyone heard anything about that. I remembered when I was younger (a few years or so back) seeing them everywhere!!!! but I don't think I have ever seen as many as I did on June 14th. WOW!!!!

posted on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 4:09pm
krystyne's picture
krystyne says:

saw one tonight in my house! (Hawley MN) I was watching late night TV and then saw a beetle on my throw.....thought it was just another creepy crawler, so I got a paper towel to squish it and throw it away! When I opened up the paper towel it was blinking so I stuck it in my son's 'bug habitat' we just bought him (that comes with a 'bug vaccuum' of all things! lol)
I haven't seen any around for so long that I thought I would keep it until the morning so that he could see one.....I don't know when he will get another chance.

posted on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 12:41am
Maddy's picture
Maddy says:

I found all of your comments and the article very helpful in learning more about fireflies. I live in upstate New York, where there are hundreds in our yard in the summer time. Sometimes there seems to be more fireflies after a rain, and now, thanks to your article and discussion, I know that a wet climate supports the fireflies' food, slugs, better and that is why there are more fireflies on a rainy night. Thank you again.

posted on Sat, 06/28/2008 - 10:22am
Qmaus's picture
Qmaus says:

Well, I finally saw some last weekend (Martinsburg, WV). I saw them around 8-9pm. There weren't many, but I walked around the neighborhood and into a few of the local cemetaries and probably saw around 40-50 total. Unfortunately, there weren't enough of them to make video capture feasible. Hoping I can find someplace within 50 miles or so where there'll be enough to make a small video that I can put up on MySpace and/or YouTube.

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 1:34pm
jaybee's picture
jaybee says:

Here in eastern Pa. I can walk outside right now and they'd be so thick in places that one could walk through them. Here, they come in at least three distinct colors: yellow, bright greenish yellow (that's what I have most of), and the much rarer not-as-bright bluish white. There's generally 5 or 6 inside during the summer. They say they are most common in Fla., well my family lives there and the numbers don't come close to the free-for-all going on here in east Pa. Any other Pa.'ers here to back me up?
"Lightning Bugs", as we call them here are magical: they bring the distant points of starlight into our midst for awhile every year.

posted on Sat, 07/05/2008 - 8:29pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I was in South Sioux City, Nebraska, early last week, and I saw fireflies by the hundreds at dusk. Here in Minnesota, though, no such luck...

posted on Mon, 07/07/2008 - 9:07am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I was up at William O'Brien state park this weekend (near Stillwater, MN) and I saw lots of fireflies. And I was out taking a walk a only couple miles from St. Paul last week, and I even saw some fireflies there too (only a couple dozen or so, though).

posted on Mon, 07/07/2008 - 9:14am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This year, similar to 12 years ago, has been one for the fireflies. They are absolutely everywhere and number in the thousands every night. This is in East Central Nebraska. I have some photos if anyone is interested. However, the reason I ran across this site is because along with the abundance of fireflies has been a marked decrease in mosquitos, so I, too, was wondering if lightning bugs ate mosquitos. Perhaps my daughter and I can try the experiment suggested to find out! Thanks for all the posts and information!

posted on Sun, 07/13/2008 - 9:26pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I'd love to see your photos -- please post a couple.

As larvae, fireflies eat earthworms, snails and slugs. As adults, they mostly eat plant nectar.

posted on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 3:08pm
jj/joey jr.'s picture

do fireflys eat miscitos and other flying innsects? and you did great!!!! your (info) is amazeing

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 12:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in upstate and my friend lives lives in Richmond, VA. We were just commenting on how we use to catch fireflies by the dozens as kids in Virginia when we were kids 25 years ago and how the disappeared. We have just started to notice them again. What a treat. What happened during those years and why are we seeing them coming back now. I hope they will come back strong!!! I miss them! Any answers?

Ginny

posted on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 7:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in Racine Wisconsin. Fireflies are EVERYWHERE this year. I don't remember seeing them at all in years past, but this year........WOW.
We were just out in the country and there had to be hundreds of them above our friends Soybean field.
I wonder if it has anything to do with the severe rain we had in June and the flooding?
Incredible though. All the kids is the neighborhood are collecting fireflies for their bug houses. So much fun to watch!!

posted on Sun, 07/20/2008 - 9:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in south east michigan and I saw fireflies for the first time in years. The weather here has been very humid with rain. I have a koi pond in my backyard. My daughter is 8 years old and that was her first encounter with fireflies. She was soo excited. I remember catching them when I was a kid.
I just want to know what plants attract fireflies?
Thank you for your research-hope you find your fireflies.
God Bless!

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 9:13pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Lansing, in mid-Michigan, has also had a spectacular abundance of fireflies this year.

I did a quick Google search and couldn't find any mention of specific plants that attract fireflies. However, it seems they like moist, humid areas.

posted on Mon, 07/28/2008 - 4:15pm
Joan's picture
Joan says:

I moved to Alabama in January of 2005 from a firefly-bare New Mexico. Imagine my delight when fireflies were everywhere one June night, as I drove home. I had to pull over as I was crying too hard to see. I was raised in Maryland and fireflies were a big part of my childhood, but after thirty-five years in New Mexico without them, it was like going home. That summer of 2005 was great, they were everywhere. However, the next two summers have not been as good. Alabama is in drought conditions and the humidity has been, relatively speaking, very low. There were no fireflies spotted last summer and, so far, I have only spotted two this summer. It seems that humidity must have something to do with the breeding/hatching cycle. Whatever the reason, I miss them...

posted on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 7:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have fireflies here in East-Central Wisconsin, but I haven't seen nor heard any crickets. They use to drive everyone crazy singing all night, or not being able to find them in the house. Where on earth did they all go.

posted on Sun, 07/27/2008 - 7:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

what are red and white and hang out in swarms lighting up in my backyard tree?

posted on Fri, 08/22/2008 - 7:29am
Deborah's picture
Deborah says:

I live in North Florida and I do not see fireflys anymore, not in some years now. I have land in a remote area with a pond, no chemicals have been near thee pond or anywhere near it. No fireflys

posted on Sun, 08/31/2008 - 5:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have not only not seen fireflys but a huge reduction in frogs too. There used to be thousands of frogs at night on the streets and roads but none no more. Only the toad and rain frogs and not like they used to be.

posted on Sun, 08/31/2008 - 5:05am
Cheraw, SC's picture
Cheraw, SC says:

One late May night about 15 years ago, I sat on my front porch in B,ham Al. Across the street, the fireflies lit up a Japanese cherry tree like Christmas lights. I haven,t seen any fireflies since. Here in SC when we were children they were everywhere. Now. I see none. I sure miss them.

posted on Sun, 08/31/2008 - 3:30pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

There's an international conference in Thailand studying the disappearance of fireflies worldwide.

The Museum of Science in Boston is running a firefly watch", where you can report your sightings.

And they are surveying fireflies in england, where the little buggers are called "glowworms."

posted on Sun, 08/31/2008 - 6:43pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I saw fireflies while camping by a cornfield in Nebraska last week. Exciting. I used to see them a lot during the 20 years I lived in a woods between Delano and Rockford. I miss them.

posted on Sun, 08/31/2008 - 9:03pm
Don in Iowa's picture
Don in Iowa says:

Fireflies have been an obsessive summer observation of mine for as long as I can remember, and that is over 64 years.

In mid-July, in the country, the space one to two feet above the fields of corn would be alive with the lights of fireflies. For years, especially in the 1940s through the 1970s, you could drive along the dirt roads at dusk, park and watch the light show. There would be tens of thousands upon thousands of fireflies hovering just above the green corn stalks on any given acre of ground.

This July of 2008, I sat at dusk, on back roads far away from the light pollution, in the heart of Iowa, and watched for fireflies evening after evening. There were very few, perhaps as few as only 2 or 3 percent of the numbers in the 1940s--1970s, perhaps fewer. The fireflies are gone . . . not just lost in light pollution, but gone . . . disappeared . . . an environmental or evolution change, and all in just 20 years or so.

The firefly is only an indicator--a symptom--of changes we do not understand, but which are--doubtless--induced by humankind and its negative influences on the environment.

When the fireflies or lightning bugs are gone totally and forever, and when the last person tells of the haunting light shows of an evening above the endless fields of summer corn, we will have lost a tiny portion of our human experience and a profound thread of Nature's fabric.

Humans are incompatible with Nature. We may---in the end--have had less value here than the fireflies. Their purpose, in the blazing three weeks of their lifespan, is to assure another generation and, in doing so, create evenings of beauty and serenity, an outcome of a life's purpose so rarely achieved by so few humans as to be virtually non-existant within the forces of Nature.

We would do well to regard the last fireflies . . .

posted on Mon, 09/01/2008 - 7:45am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

You really think humans have less value than fireflies? Remind me not to put you down as my emergency medical contact.

Fireflies may "create evenings of beauty and serenity," but that is subjective, and only incidental to their mating behavior. It is certainly not their "purpose." Besides, human creativity outstrips that of fireflies by quite a few orders of magnitude.

Man is not "incompatible with nature." Man is part of nature. The sooner we learn that, the better.

We must preserve nature. We must protect species. But to insult and denigrate all humans in the process is uncalled for, and counter-productive.

posted on Mon, 09/01/2008 - 7:58pm
Terrie's picture
Terrie says:

Don - what a profound and beautifully written essay on the magic of a childhood filled with fireflies. I copied into my journal the paragraph starting with "When the fireflies or lightning bugs are gone totally..." - it was haunting.
I too grew up with fireflies, glowing above the new lawn of my Florida childhood home, shimmering along the creek's edge in my grandparents' North Carolina yard, flickering in the twilight on the Louisiana Air Force base where we lived in the late 60's. Although we also lived all over Europe, I do not remember any fireflies there. When my daughters were born, we moved to a century-old farmhouse in the north Louisiana countryside, and they had the same enchanted summer evenings I'd had, with magic lanterns shining through the trees around our house, illuminating the dusk like tiny stars. Sigh. My daughters are both away at college now, and for the last several years, I have not seen the fireflies. I have wondered whether our Louisiana brown bats, which we built homes for about 9 years ago to help eliminate some of our mosquitoes, might be eating them. Yesterday I dropped a friend off at her house in a nearby town, and her yard was fairly glowing with fireflies! I felt such a longing, and am determined to find out how I can get our twinkling guests back!

posted on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 10:10pm
jane180's picture
jane180 says:

I have missed seeing lots of fireflies in the last few years. I lived in FL for 15 yrs, Fort Myers, never saw any at all. May have been too hot. I grew up in GA and as a kid they seemed to light up the night esp at my grandmother's farm.

I live in Athens, GA for the last 10 years and haven't seen near as many but of course lots of light pollution. Also have been experiencing drought conditions and hotter weather here in recent years.

We go camping the the North Georgia mountains as well as parts of N. and S. Carolina. Occasionally, we see some fireflies but not very many and they don't stay out as late. We usually wait a good bit after dark watching for them before we use lanterns or light a fire. Of course, this is usually in June and July.

posted on Mon, 09/01/2008 - 1:45pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

CNN just posted an interesting article on this - find it here.

posted on Mon, 09/01/2008 - 2:11pm
Cindy's picture
Cindy says:

I live in southcentral Pennsylvania on 9 acres of wooded land with several wetland ponds and two streams. This is my fifth summer at this location and during the past two years, have noticed a significant decline in the number of fireflies on my property. I have everything needed for them to reproduce and have not altered anything since moving to this location. In fact, we have made significant improvements in order to protect the natural habitat. When we first moved here, the trees would light up at night -- it looked like twinkle lights on the trees. While we still do have fireflies, there aren't nearly as abundant in prior years. We have no artificial lights, otheran than our porch lights and we have plenty of dead and rotting wood. Other beetles seem to survive and thrive.

posted on Fri, 09/05/2008 - 12:59pm
Greg Slominski's picture
Greg Slominski says:

I live n Central Virginia. My kids and I haven't seen a firefly for a couple of years. They were prevalent five years ago. Urban sprawl is present, but even stable areas have lost their fire flies.

We've been inundated by something called "stink bugs." These are a dull brown, with a flat diamond shaped body.

Bee populations have dropped, as have turkey vultures which, five years ago had strong flocks.

Deer have become so prevalent, at night there seem to be more deer in peoples' yards than dogs.

If I could find a source to buy fire fly larva I'd try to reintroduce them.

posted on Sat, 09/13/2008 - 6:03pm
LM's picture
LM says:

This past weekend, we were having a family "bonfire" and while sitting in our field in the western Catskills, we saw small specks of light all around the field. We took a flashlight and saw this larval creature, which we guessed was a firefly larva... and now with internet research confirmed. We have the adult fireflies usually in the July timeframe - but this is the first time I saw the larva - very exciting, especially since we had a small group of kids present who were able to see them as well. Its these types of experiences that lay the groundwork for adults who appreciate nature.......

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 11:03pm
crazy's picture
crazy says:

I have lived in florida my whole 34 years of life and have maybe see a handfull.Am i in the wrong state? I have lived in city life to beachside right down to the middle of no where as i am livin in the woods now and thats where i thought my kids could see them but we see none..please let me know where i could see them..crazy from bunnell florida

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 1:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

are there any firefly breeders?

posted on Sun, 10/12/2008 - 9:28pm
CrusaderPatriot's picture

I'm in north central Wisconsin and I haven't seen a lightning bug in years either. They used to be thick in the city in my backyard for about a month in the summer time. Now they're no longer there, so I thought maybe they're still out in the country because of lights, pesticides, etc., however, when I went looking for them, I found nothing. I'm not sure what it is, but clearly something has changed which effects them.

posted on Thu, 01/29/2009 - 3:21pm
rocky's picture
rocky says:

My wife & I have been wondering about the lack of fireflies(or"lightning bugs")in Florida(St. Pete). i used to see them a lot when I was a kid,but I haven't seen any for years. My kids don't even know what we're talking about. It make me sad to think that a little of nature's wonder may be gone

posted on Mon, 05/11/2009 - 10:13am
Little Les's picture
Little Les says:

I haven't seen fireflys in several years. It was funny that I had not thought about it entill I was telling my children about my adverntures with fireflys when I was little. Then it dawned on me. Where are the fireflys? I live in central florida and we use to see them all the time. It has been several years sence I have seen one. I wish they were still in my area. My kids are really missing something special.

posted on Thu, 05/14/2009 - 11:03am
Jacob's picture
Jacob says:

We've just moved to a wooded area on Wheelock Parkway (near Como Park) in Saint Paul. Last night, as I turned the lights out, I noted a good number of fireflies already blinking away! It was an incredible treat, even though it _does_ seem a little early in the season. Plan an evening walk along the parkway - we live on the end closest to Linder's Greenhouse - and you're sure to spot 'em.

posted on Sun, 05/24/2009 - 7:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My best friend has a big back yard. when ever we stay out there a night we see tons of fireflies. We try our best to catch and study them, but its very hard how do i do it?

posted on Mon, 05/25/2009 - 1:57pm
Hannah Powell's picture
Hannah Powell says:

I noticed about 4 years ago that I hadnt seen lightning bugs all summer ...didnt mention it to anyone else till last summer when I still hasnt seen a single one . I work at a childrens home and mentioned it in front of one of our 7 year olds who thought i was making the whole "glowing bug" thing up ! How sad ! I didnt realise till then how rare lightning bugs are now, even in the ideal humid/hot rural area of central Alabama. I saw one for the first time in YEARS last week and i was so excited about it and it got me wondering so I searched the web and found this website. Needless to say- there must be a major decline in lightning bugs for so many others to have noticed. Is there anything we can do to help the firefly population grow ?? I miss them !

posted on Fri, 05/29/2009 - 3:44pm
sparky's picture
sparky says:

their in the country!

posted on Tue, 06/09/2009 - 7:18am
Crex's picture
Crex says:

June 13, 2009, northern Chippewa County, Wisconsin.
Lots of fireflies tonight from dusk to 22:30.
Noticed at least five different flash patterns. Caught a few. Some were about 3/4 inch and one was just over 1/4 inch.
Took digital closeups top and bottom and will dig out my beetle field guide.
The area is mostly a dry oak woods with plenty of pines, birch, ironwood and aspen mixed in. Lots of downed and rotting tree stumps. Low damp areas abound. There is a bog lake close by.
Fireflies were all in the larger clearings.

posted on Sat, 06/13/2009 - 10:09pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

First firefly sighting of the season in Lansing, Michigan: 9:15 pm June 14.

posted on Sun, 06/14/2009 - 7:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I was wanting to spray for mosquitos in my back yard but didn't want to kill the fireflies.....so I Googled it and found this. I live in Upstate South Carolina and our backyard has hundreds of fireflies lighting up the evening hours every night (ever since late May/early June). It's really beautiful. I wish I could capture it on a film. The mosquitos are really not bad, just an occasional bite, so I've decided to not spray for mosquitos and keep the fireflies.

posted on Tue, 06/16/2009 - 9:07pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

You can always apply an insect repellent to your skin, or burn an in insect-repelling candle.

posted on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 7:54am
trans-2-butene's picture

I recently went camping at Afton State Park and saw TONS of fireflies.. The entire prairie looked like it had strings of Christmas lights hovering above.

posted on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 12:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I grew up in Chicago and the fireflies were everywhere on warm summer nights. I have lived in the Minneapolis Minnesota suburbs for ten years and I have seen one firefly. I really miss them! I have so many great childhood memories of them. It wasn't summer untill you could catch a few lightening bugs!

posted on Wed, 06/24/2009 - 6:55pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

9:15 pm, Friday, July 31, and my backyard in Michigan is swarming with at least 2 dozen lightning bugs. We recently had some record-setting rainfall, and there have definitely been more slugs in my garden this year, so that probably accounts for it.

posted on Fri, 07/31/2009 - 7:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Maybe they are dieing from polution.

posted on Wed, 08/05/2009 - 6:01pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

My wife and I saw fireflies up near Lutsen last week. Not a lot but they were the first I've seen in a while.

posted on Mon, 08/17/2009 - 8:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

There were so many fireflies in my son's backyard in Dubuque, IA the end of June, that it lit up the yard! They appeared just after dark and were still lighting up when we retired for the evening about 10PM. Live in WA state now and never see them

posted on Thu, 08/20/2009 - 12:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Live outside Charleston, South Carolina, I too had wondered why the fireflies disappeared. I believe it has more to do with the use of pesticides than anything else. I grew up in Michigan, in the suburbs outside of Detroit (plenty of light pollution & urban encroachment) and fireflies were abundant in our backyards in the 60's and 70's.

When I relocated to South Carolina, there used to be lots of fireflies in Beaufort and Charleston and then several years ago they went away or so I thought. The last couple years I have noticed lots of fireflies late in the evenings (after 10) driving through the swamps on 165 between Summerville and Ravanel and this past year I have even seen them in my back yard in Summerville

posted on Tue, 08/25/2009 - 8:01pm
Elsie Becker's picture
Elsie Becker says:

I live in a rural area 35 miles southeast of Dallas. When my children were young there were fireflies everywhere. I haven't seen any for so many years I can't even tell you. I am 72 years old so you know I am talking about a long time. It is kind of scary. I heard the bees are disappearing. Do you think this has something to do with global warming and the way we mistreat out planet? I also haven't seen any armadillos in about 20 years when we had them on our 15 acres.
We still see a roadrunner occasionally, though.

posted on Sun, 11/22/2009 - 5:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I was very curious about the same thing, i guess this has been an issue for a while.. I live in Texas also and haven't seen any... i usually look forward to them in the summer, it seems to make summer that much more special... anywho... I was wondering and got a boat load full of answers and realized I wasn't the only one as well, great website.

Blessings,

posted on Wed, 12/23/2009 - 10:47pm
Douglas's picture
Douglas says:

I remember 22 years or so ago visiting my mom up in Missouri. Don't know the exact area, but I think the river/creek that ran on the other side of the road was called Big River or some such even though it didn't seem that big. That summer is one of the last times I think I remember seeing fireflies in large quantities outside and I'd collect them in jars with my little brother. I vaguely recall seeing a decent amount of them here in East Texas in the early to mid 90's but not so many after that. I've lived in North Carolina now for 3 years and rarely see any at all when I bother to really hunt for them. Maybe just a couple a night if that. I found this link to an older Houston Press article on Google, it has some few possibilities including fire ants eating firefly larvae.
http://www.houstonpress.com/2000-03-02/news/lights-out

posted on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 6:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I grew up around Lake St Clair and St. Clair river in Michigan. I remember every June the fireflies. Not so anymore. They seemed to have disappeared. Have lived in different states. Close friends agreed. They have disappeared. Anyone I ask same response. Many from many different areas remembered them but haven't seen them in years. Rev 11:18 God will bring to ruin those ruining the Earth.......

posted on Sat, 02/13/2010 - 3:27am
Norm Erickson's picture
Norm Erickson says:

We have a hazelnut orchard and large garden in Lake City, MN, and we see lots of fireflies on warm summer evenings. Perhaps it is the absence of chemical applications, and the woody habitat. Leopard frog and tree frogs in the orchard sing for us all.

posted on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 7:22am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

so waht is so important about that

posted on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 9:19am
J N's picture
J N says:

I am typing with one hand at the moment. With the other, I am feverishly scratching mosquito bites on both ankles. I just came in from the back yard where I looked in vain for the firefly. The firefly. Five years ago, on a thick night in May just like this one, I showed my young son a firefly. One. Ten years ago, I saw dozens. 20 years ago; hundreds. Same yard in central Florida. When I was a kid, in south Florida, and as a teenager in north Florida, you could read a book by them. I am as fascinated with them now as I was then. The problem is that now, my firefly viewing is only via YouTube and NatGeo. Five years, one firefly.

When this house was built in 1983, fireflies were as common as the mosquitoes that just ate me for dinner. But by 1993, the mosquito trucks were a regular event twice a week. I think they should have been called firefly trucks because there are just as many mosquitoes these days; but no fireflies.

No science to back me up here, but I'm putting all the blame on the same mosquito trucks that we rode our bikes behind when we were kids.

posted on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 9:22pm
J N's picture
J N says:

Alternate theory: Bats? We do have our share of bats around here. Do they eat fireflies?

posted on Thu, 05/27/2010 - 8:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

When I grew up, there were lots of fireflies. I moved away...and didn't see them for years. And I had heard they were scarce in my hometown. Now, I live in upstate NY and have tons of fireflies. It makes me happy to see them back...but it does make me wonder what happened to them. I've heard they are all but extinct in Japan. Hummmm.....

posted on Sun, 06/06/2010 - 7:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I moved into my new home in floresville, tx 7 yrs ago and the lighting bugs were everywhere. I haven't seen a firefly and/or lighting bug for 5 yrs now. I put up a purple marlin bird house 2 yrs after I moved into the house and since then I haven't seen the lighting bugs that were abundant at the time. Coincidence?

posted on Tue, 06/08/2010 - 11:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in Northeastern Ohio and last night and I found a LOT of fireflies in my front yard from 7-9.

posted on Wed, 06/09/2010 - 1:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Here in rural Missouri, I have already seen several fire flies this season. My little boys love to run around chasing them right after dark. They are the yellowish green lights variety.

posted on Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:58pm
J N's picture
J N says:

OK, so for now I'm going with the bats theory. Here's my science project; see if you can help me: How many of us have fireflies but no bats; how many have bats but no fireflies; and how many have both?

Our house: Bats yes (approx three every night), fireflies no.

posted on Fri, 06/11/2010 - 8:58pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Put me down for "both."

posted on Sat, 06/12/2010 - 8:23pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

First firefly sighting of the season in Lansing, Michigan: 9:37 pm, Saturday, June 12.

posted on Sat, 06/12/2010 - 8:22pm
JGH's picture
JGH says:

Here in Indiana, this year, fireflies have been going crazy! I haven't seen this many in *years*, not since I was a kid. It's truly a beautiful sight. So glad they're back full force.

posted on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 10:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Me and my mom saw fire flies last week I think it was only one but it was cool. I am studying fire flies for a project. I think they are very cool. Some fire flies species ftend to live and like warmer places. There is 200 species of fire flies. fire flies are not flies at all they are a type of beetle
please reply good luck trying to find some.

posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 4:48pm
KelsiDayle's picture
KelsiDayle says:

I think all the fireflies went to Columbus, Indiana. I was just down there last week visiting my grandparents and they were all over their backyard that week. I would estimate 20-30 in a 20x40' space! That's a higher concentration than I ever remember seeing anywhere. I even got to observe two robins who came to feed on the fireflies. Pretty neat.

posted on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 2:11pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

They've been out in West St. Paul for the last week or two. I haven't seen any in my yard, but I've seen quite a few while running through Kaposia Park at night (although they definitely aren't so dense as KelsiDayle's lucky sighting!)

posted on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 3:10pm
Warner's picture
Warner says:

I'd never seen fireflies in my city (Winnipeg Manitoba), but all the time in some rural areas... until last night! I moved to a new house just on the east edge of the city, there is a marsh on government land behind my property, it never gets mowed. Yesterday evening was warm and calm after the sun went down at 10pm-ish, the flies were out! Hundreds flying around the marsh and into the properties on the edge of the marsh! very cool!

posted on Thu, 06/17/2010 - 12:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I commented some months back about not seeing fireflies since I was a kid in Michigan. I've lived in many different states and have yet to have seen any. I live in Texas now. Guess what! There be fireflies!! Next door, vacant lot, weeds as tall as trees, fireflies dancing all around them. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was absolutely wonderful! I was reading the comments posted and there was another comment on seeing them where it was overgrown. Sightings where there were many but now a few. The night I saw them it was only a few, but still a wonderful sight!

posted on Fri, 06/18/2010 - 9:05am
J N's picture
J N says:

Man, I am so confused. Some places are crawling with them, and others they have vanished. So is it that the fireflies have all moved up north?

Is it something I said?

posted on Fri, 06/18/2010 - 7:40pm
kristin m. kienzle(:'s picture

ok i thought that lightning bugs a.k.a. fire flies ate grass so i am really suprised that they eat other insects because they seem so harmless and inocent. haha. wow i feel really stupid now☺

posted on Fri, 06/18/2010 - 8:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We have a bumper crop of fireflies this year in SE Pennsylvania and surprisingly enough the skeeters are not so bad -- yay for good summertime evening weather.

posted on Thu, 06/24/2010 - 7:33am
Michael's picture
Michael says:

I live in Tennessee and if you head out in the country you can see them by the thousands. They are every where.

posted on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 9:58am
Dede Carlson's picture

We were at an outdoors concert in Snoqualmie Washington last night and there were fireflies darting all over the air. It was quite an awesome site to see since we did not think they were native to Washington. I have lived here for 60 years and never seen them before. Snoqualmie is in the foot hills of the Cascade mountain range and the concert was in a forested area. It was an amazing site to witness.

posted on Sat, 06/26/2010 - 9:12pm
Mike Breaux's picture
Mike Breaux says:

I'm from the SW corner of Louisiana and we used to witness small annual sighting of fireflies along the lakes, bayous and gullies back in the 60's and 70's. There were more so at my grandparents farm in north Louisiana - Grand Cane - a few miles south of Shreveport. A summer night on my grandparents farm could be classified as a peak life experience - literally thousands of fireflies everywhere. One night my cousins, brothers, sister and I filled several mason jars with enough fireflies to continuously light a darkened room and produce more than enough light to read comic books by. We released the majority with the exception of a few that were turned into phosphorescent "warpaint" by some of my more mercenary cousins. Unfortunately, firefly sighting are rare these days. If anyone in SW Louisiana has a sighting, please feel free to email me at mbreaux@hotmail.com

posted on Sat, 07/03/2010 - 9:05am
jane's picture
jane says:

are there any fireflies in port auther ,tx are nederland, tx any were in texas because my parents used to catch them and now we dont see them anymore do they exist still i want to see one badly ...

posted on Sun, 07/04/2010 - 12:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in Mounds View, Minnesota and I just saw a firefly for the first time in my life. There's a meadowy area with some woods and creeks that I was passing when I saw it.

posted on Fri, 07/09/2010 - 10:29pm
Barb R's picture
Barb R says:

I live in East Texas. I remember playing in the "firefly swarms", as we called them, as a child. We could go out into the yard in the summer and put our hands out and catch one without even trying. I saw a firefly tonight for the first time in at least 5 years, but probably longer. A SINGLE firefly. Where have they gone?!?!

posted on Wed, 07/14/2010 - 1:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I grew up in Louisburg Kansas, I lived on a 3 1/2 acre plot with a small pond. I can never remember a summer w/out fireflies and my recent trips visiting home (they are still thriving quite well there. I have also spotted some with in the town limits of Butler, Mo. My girls were excited about these little insects as it's the first time they've ever seen one.
We currently live in Colorado Springs, Co. and have yet to see ANY fireflies here. I also know Colorado has been known to have a west nile virus issue so perhaps that comes into play here?

I would like to know if there any to be seen in the rural areas of this area as I would dearly love to know if they are capable of living here.

posted on Mon, 07/19/2010 - 9:12pm
veritas, bitte's picture
veritas, bitte says:

It's funny that fireflies are widespread, but they show up at random times when not expected. I have seen them as far south as Mexico, and along the southeast U.S., but have never seen any here in California (where I've lived all my life). I would love to see them more often, unfortunately they are uncommon here (though not unheard of from what I've heard and read).
Does anyone know if anyone sells firefly colonies? You can find anything online nowadays for sale, but I'm having a hard time finding someone who can supply them--I have a big backyard with tress of all types and grasses--and MOIST, so I know they can thrive here.

posted on Sat, 08/07/2010 - 4:02am
jane's picture
jane says:

It was great to find this site! I was just talking to my husband about having not seen any fireflies in years. I live in st. cloud - central Minnesota - and haven't seen any in years - glad they are out there somewhere!

posted on Thu, 08/12/2010 - 4:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

south carolina- I have not seen any fire flies in several years(10). Growing up here, (i'm 60) they were plentyful. I live in the country and this area was not fogged until recent years(15/20). I have not seen the lady bugs, dragon flies, or the humming birds like before either. All of my neighbors in the area(50mi) have the same concerns, especially the humming bird population. We normally have 6 or 8 feeders up, this year we saw only one humming bird once in a few days. i do attribute the loss of these insects and birds to the fogger application. is there someone that we can contact, an organization, that we could join to keep the foggers away?

posted on Thu, 08/12/2010 - 8:26pm
Shae1976's picture
Shae1976 says:

I live on the west coast side of florida and I have lived here all my life. When I was a kid we were told not to catch fireflys, because we don't want to kill them. Now it doesn't seem like that would have mattered. I use to love going outside as a kid and looking from the stars to the beautiful twinkles across the yard. I'm only 34 and my son is 16, he has never seen a firefly. Does anyone know how we can bring this wonderful insect back to Florida? And how we can keep them here?

posted on Sat, 08/14/2010 - 10:11am
Kim Helms's picture
Kim Helms says:

Believe this! I was outside this late afternoon early evening and my son and I saw fireflies circleing all around us and we both were amazed. I live in Kannapolis NC and I have never seen a firefly in all of my 50 yrs. My son had just finished mowing our grass and there were a few items laying around like my grand kids swimming pool and it had water laying after we turned it over also ther was a tarp with water under it and it had been laying there for a little bit. So I guess from him moving these items and the grass being a little under mowed they decided to come out. We also have a vegetable garden which it is finished for the summer as far as giving off any vegetables. But very weird to us! Excited about the event... Take Care! 8-16-10

posted on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 7:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My grand daughter went to Cleveland Ohio this past july and came home talking about catching ligtning bugs .She was amazed with them and said they were everywhere.We live in louisiana and she had never seen them before.We were just talking about that at school "why we don't have them anymore in the South"

posted on Sun, 09/26/2010 - 4:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We get swarms of them each spring in Grimes County Texas, 1 hour nw of Houston.
At times it looks like a light show....

posted on Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Have seen a few this week, October 25, 2010 in the evening in Brenham, Tx. Wish we could see more

posted on Thu, 10/28/2010 - 8:12am
Mary Ellen's picture
Mary Ellen says:

It seems to me that there are a lot of people willing to nurture a firefly population if we could find out where to get them. ...so IS there anywhere to buy fireflies in any stage of their development?

posted on Mon, 11/01/2010 - 9:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Seeing fireflies is really kind of hard. They require very specific habitats. There are plenty of species pretty much world wide, you get them all the way from southern Canada to Chile and Argentina, also in Europe Africa and Asia. However, they only light up for a few months of the summer and only for about 75 minutes a day. The flashes are used simply for mating, fireflies start their courtship about 15 minutes after sunset and only goes on for about an hour and a half after sunset. In the northern hemisphere this is seen from may/june to august, specially in the end of june beginning of July. They will however stay away from bright areas as their mating would be disrupted. If you see one close to a city or any lights for that matter, its probably pretty disorientated. They also require very humid areas to lay their larvae and open grassy fields for their courtship, so you will most likely find them close to a pond at the edge of a forest on a grassy lightless field.
Good luck finding them!

Reference:
-Firefly Courtship: Behavioral and Morphological Predictors of
Male Mating Success in Photinus greeni
Kristian Demary*, Constantinos I. Michaelidis & Sara M. Lewis*
-Action spectra of the female’s response in the firefly Photinus
pyralis (Coleoptera: Lampyridae): evidence for an achromatic
detection of the bioluminescent optical signal
Abner B. Lall *, Karen M. Worthy

posted on Fri, 11/05/2010 - 11:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The Mid-Atlantic still thrives with lightening bugs, to the point where I want to say we have more then we used to. In Delaware and Pennsylvania, summer nights are a constant light show. This summer has only seen more. They even get inside our house and light our curtains.

posted on Sat, 11/20/2010 - 6:04pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We lived in Phoenix, AZ the last few years, so never saw them there. When I lived in Raleigh, NC about 10 years ago, they were few and far between in the main city area. However, when I'd be driving in the evening shortly outside the metro area, like on the way to the mountains or beach, I would see them in abundance over by where the land area was next to the freeways.

We were visiting Burnsville in August and I made a big deal to my almost 5 year old about seeing fireflies. The house we would be visiting had grass and then was heavily wooded behind. So from growing up in Indiana and Michigan where we had an abundance of them, even in the Detroit metro area, I just assumed they would be here too. And she was so excited. And I was wrong. Not a single firefly.

We have moved to MN and are now living in a house with not much land, but the huge Lebanon Hills Regional Park (I think about 28,000 square miles of parkland) is about 5 minutes away. I'm hopeful that if we don't see any fireflies in our neighborhood, we can drive over there to see them.

I just recall growing up and having them be all over the place. Even out front of the house around the sidewalk and street. Every single year, without fail.

posted on Fri, 02/04/2011 - 8:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in a small town above new orleans and have been here for 35 years. There were always fireflies by the hundreds every spring and summer. I remember the first time they sprayed for mosquitoes here it killed literally every firefly that night. It was horrible the way they littered the ground, their blinking dim and slowly fading as they died. To this day, there are only a few in early spring and these disappear once they start spraying again. I have a degree in zoology with a minor in entomology, so i can assure you that mosquito spraying, at least here, definitely kills fireflies.

posted on Fri, 04/01/2011 - 10:48pm
Leah McNair's picture
Leah McNair says:

I am so thankful to find others concerned about the firefly. In my 50's and having lived in Savannah, GA the last 15 years, there were no more fireflies...never saw any in north GA when visitng up there, either, though I grew up in Dekalb Co where they proliferated every summer for all those years...Growing up in suburban North GA, there were always many lovely fireflies like tiny fireworks making summer nights more delightful. After reading all the entries in this excellent blog I vote that it is the fear of West Nile Virus, i.e.,indiscriminant use of pesticide that has killed them.
You folk in the fire-fly regions now up north are blessed to still enjoy them...we arenow living in Yuma Az, we couldnt expect to see any here ever, i guess.

posted on Sat, 04/30/2011 - 10:28pm
Alexis...'s picture
Alexis... says:

I live in Louisiana and about in March we had a pretty good amount in my backyard. One night we caught about 20 then let them go. now in June i barely see 3 and flying high in the trees. I have a little butterfly net that i catch them wit and then i put them in a jar.

posted on Thu, 06/02/2011 - 1:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i have seen Fireflies in my home town. Adel Iowa in back yard by a field.

posted on Thu, 06/02/2011 - 9:58pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

First firefly sighting of the season for mid-Michigan: 9:42 pm, Friday, June 17.

posted on Sat, 06/18/2011 - 7:37pm
Lorie's picture
Lorie says:

I live in west central wisconsin. When I was a child growing up my mother used to take us to our grandparents in City Point Wi. Fireflies were everywhere at night. You couldn't go out at night and NOT see them. Now, I am 50 years old and work 3rd shift and still live in City Point Wi. For the first time in years I left for work 2 nights ago and saw the first of fireflies I have seen in years and then there were just a few. How sad.

posted on Sun, 06/26/2011 - 9:07pm
Nikki says's picture
Nikki says says:

I'm 39 and just saw fieflies for the first time in my life. I live in Woodbury, MN (a suburb of the Twin Cities) and we live on a marshy pond. Beautiful!

posted on Mon, 06/27/2011 - 1:28am
Ed's picture
Ed says:

I'm 49 and have NEVER seen a firefly. Born and raised in Arizona. Trying to plan a weekend trip this summer simply to see fireflies. It's a buckt list thing.

posted on Mon, 04/16/2012 - 10:55pm
Rainey's picture
Rainey says:

I live near Madison, Wisconsin, out in the country and I know I'm seeing fewer fireflies than I did as a kid back in Kansas. The little guys just started showing up a few nights ago, and I thought there should be more, unless pesticides are killing them off. I've tried to find a source for a firefly 'hatch' to boost the population, but there doesn't seem to be anything out there. Kind of breaks my heart -- they're so magical and beautiful.

posted on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 9:26pm
Yvette's picture
Yvette says:

This summer the firefly counts have to be the highest we've seen in a very long time. I have spoken with many people who are noticing and enjoying the spectacular night show. I live in the country, Dane county, Wisconsin. It hasn't been like this since I was a kid.

posted on Mon, 07/11/2011 - 6:27am
mdr's picture
mdr says:

I saw a firefly in my front yard in Minneapolis tonight, the first I've seen here in decades.

posted on Wed, 07/13/2011 - 9:42pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Really?
I don't see very many of them, but this is the peak time of year. And I've seen a few every night for the last week. But they're always kinda lonely. Hard to imagine that they're finding mates and all that when there are, like, three fireflies on the whole block...

posted on Thu, 07/14/2011 - 4:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hello i like all idea of the fire flies in my country there is no fire flies at all but i was wishing one day i will see them but not.i like this site so keep going on

posted on Sun, 08/10/2014 - 9:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Plenty of lightning bugs where I am in Alexandria, Virginia. They come out in early June and stick around til the end of July usually. Then we get the cicadas which tell us that summer is winding down.

posted on Thu, 07/21/2011 - 1:27pm
Gerard Chorley's picture
Gerard Chorley says:

I moved from Sacramento, CA to Kansas City, MO in late-May 2010 and I was enchanted by the green fields (which stayed green until late-October), the daily thunderstorms and - most of all - by the fireflies! Never saw them before and suddenly there were so many to see! From dusk to nearly dawn, swarms of them from ground-level to the tops of the trees. It was a magical experience. I missed them when I saw their last few twinkles fade out in early-August and looked forward to seeing them again this summer.

But Missouri has ripped me off this year. Few thunderstorms, very little rain, Brown fields by mid-July and - worst of all - very few fireflies. And those few that did come out to play seemed to get tired by late evening.

Much of what I've learned @ your site makes sense. It has been a much drier year in Western Missouri and I don't have a creek in my backyard this summer. Now what I'm wondering is this: can I create a yard/habitat that nourishes fireflies and, if so, how do I go about that?

posted on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 3:31am
Lydia L. P.'s picture

I'm here because I was asking this exact question! -- here it is August 24th I'm on my back deck 2nd story, it's a little cool at 71° but still warm and comfortable. The view is good into the heavily wooded perimeter of our property. There is a high school field on the other side of the wooded buffer. So you would also think this would be firefly heaven? None don't see any! Not in June, July, or now in August. Last year 2010 or this year. We are in Franklin, Massachusetts, so where are they? :(

posted on Wed, 08/24/2011 - 6:44pm
Vrocks's picture
Vrocks says:

I barely see them now in days. only whenever i am at a garden then i will see them. it feels like they are going to be extinct. it would be nice to see them once in awhile.

posted on Thu, 08/25/2011 - 6:39pm
Yetta's picture
Yetta says:

Byhalia Miss along the coldwater creek area there are many fireflies on Late Summer/Fall nights.

posted on Sun, 09/04/2011 - 10:35am
tara  murry's picture
tara murry says:

i live in addis use to live in plaquemine loisiana grew up seeing fireflys in woods even in winter now cents live in town the suger cane feilds grew over time nothing went to arkan sa seen them plenty they cant figuer why none here that was the first time my daughter has ever seen them number for me to report

posted on Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:15pm
David W. Diffenderfer's picture
David W. Diffenderfer says:

There were fireflies in Yosemite Valley in the late 1950's. I caught many of them while waiting for the fire falls. They seem to be gone now and no one remembers them.

posted on Sun, 05/06/2012 - 5:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Your statement that mosquito spraying is an unlikely explanation for the disappearance of fireflies, since it doesn't seem to affect other insects, is flawed logic. Some insects are more susceptible to pesticides than others, and fireflies, unfortunately, are particularly sensitive.

I have just witnessed this first-hand. I live in NW Florida, and was excited to see the first fireflies since 2006, in the conservation area that borders our home. They began appearing about May 1st, more and more each evening. The mosquito truck came on May 8th, and they were completely gone the following evening and the evenings after that.

posted on Sat, 05/12/2012 - 7:37pm
JJH's picture
JJH says:

Saw flashing fire fly outside my bedroom window about an hour after sunset. It was flying at the edge of a tree on the dampest side of my house (north side). From what I have read, this is early in the season to see them flashing (May 20th). I have lived here for 25 years and this is the first time I have seen one in my yard. I live about a mile from the Mississippi River.

posted on Mon, 05/21/2012 - 9:35pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

First firefly sighting of the season in mid-Michigan: 9:30 pm, Thursday, June 7.

posted on Thu, 06/07/2012 - 9:09pm
AJMontgomery's picture
AJMontgomery says:

Hadn't considered first sightings since my boys have hit their teens. Curious now as to the timing, so I'll watch.

I understand they need the water for breeding and wonder if the mild winter plays a role. There are sights you can 'google' that have first sighting data. Perhaps the later timing is still within natural variation.

thanks for giving me something to search for and ponder in the backyard...

posted on Fri, 06/08/2012 - 8:31am
cesarsmommy's picture
cesarsmommy says:

1st firefly sighting in Chicago 6/8/2012... my nephew also found a firefly larva... how exciting!!

posted on Sat, 06/09/2012 - 9:05pm
Mother of 4's picture
Mother of 4 says:

We got stationed at Fort Benning GA last June, I was so excited when we got orders to go there I thought I would be able to show my children lightning bugs. Our first house was 12 miles out in the country and sat on 6 acres there was a pond also. Every night we sat outside waiting to see them but never did. Has anyone seen any in this part of GA recently? Or even Northern Florida I would like to take a road trip to find them. Thank you

posted on Fri, 06/22/2012 - 1:11pm
William Bridges's picture
William Bridges says:

We live in NE Alberta Canada out in the country 10+ miles from even a small town of 500 and we have a small number of Fireflies every year from the end of June thru mid August. We have a small acreage that is completely surrounded by trees with a very small pocket marsh in the trees - I believe they like this! Locals say our place is the only one with sightings of them in the surrounding areas for several years; that makes them special to us! They are welcome as long as they are able to stay! Amazing isn't it, we can get -40c+ in the winter and yet they still show up every summer :):):)

posted on Mon, 06/25/2012 - 8:39am
LindaK's picture
LindaK says:

Here out in Suffolk County, LI, they spray and have killed off the mosquitos and flies are rare. Yet the fireflies are fairly prolific this year after some years of pretty low concentration. Have no idea why they're coming back. We did have a mild winter, no snow. Don't know if that's a factor...

posted on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:57pm
something4's picture
something4 says:

I've seen a ton of fireflies in Virginia Beach, VA theres a field behind my house and all the little kids go there to catch fireflies.

posted on Fri, 08/03/2012 - 5:24pm
bughappy's picture
bughappy says:

It's not just fireflies it's ladybugs too. We live in North Central Arkansas. Our property is located in the country. We have not seen a single firefly or ladybug this year; i checked out this site tweentribune.com/content/whens-last-time-you-saw-ladybug Appearently they are beleaved to be almost extinct.

posted on Thu, 08/23/2012 - 9:59am
Brad's picture
Brad says:

I used to catch fireflies down by the river in my home town of Farmington,NM . It is a mile high elevation and very low humidity.
I have never seen a firefly in California... and it more humid here. So the humidity reason doesn't seem to be a complete reason.

posted on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 10:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thanks! I'm planning on doing a survey on if people have seen fireflies lately... and yes, I have seen many fireflies in my own backyard in Lake Charles, LA. I live by the woods and i was walking at about 6:00 at night last October and i saw twenty to forty of them, as an estimate. I hope i helped a bit!

posted on Tue, 02/19/2013 - 7:22pm
J.B. Rich's picture
J.B. Rich says:

20-40 lightening bugs indeed. When we walked out on the farm in Mississippi at night, the are so many fireflys in the air, you couldn't help having them not run into your head or face. If you wave your hand in the air you would end up hitting them or they will just land on your hand.

posted on Wed, 06/12/2013 - 10:59pm
Elizabeth Paulson's picture
Elizabeth Paulson says:

Hello so interested in fireflys 3 summers ago I saw a few
in my neighbors yard thought is this possible our eco
enviroment is good here in the High Desert. We see
dragonflys and chinese beetles all the time. thanks for
the information.

posted on Thu, 06/20/2013 - 12:25am
Samm's picture
Samm says:

I live in a little town called Reedsburg, in Southern Wisconsin. Usually, the field right by my house is FULL of fireflies. The last couple years, though, there haven't been any. A couple weeks ago, I was walking with my sister and tripped. When I stood, a firefly had attached itself to my hair. Only one I've seen in three years.

posted on Sat, 08/24/2013 - 6:45pm
Adam's picture
Adam says:

I was shocked one lovely evening in mid July to find a place along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico to have plentiful fireflies. I thought they weren't supposed to be this far west, although I suppose northern NM isn't so far from Kansas.

posted on Thu, 08/29/2013 - 2:56pm
Mike L. Yuhasz's picture
Mike L. Yuhasz says:

Last year 2013 I seen about a dozen lightning bugs, this year 2014 I haven' t seen any yet !
I live in Amherst, Ohio

posted on Mon, 06/09/2014 - 12:13pm
Patricia Harris's picture
Patricia Harris says:

I Haven't Seen Any Lighting Bug Yet, I Hope People Will Resolve This Situation Soon!

posted on Tue, 06/17/2014 - 8:27pm
Sooz's picture
Sooz says:

They've been seen in rural areas of NE Ohio too. Trying to figure this one out. We're USED to seeing lightning bugs with their floating bodies and bright yellow lights. These bugs that light up WHITE are not lightning bugs plus they fly a lot faster than lightning bugs.

posted on Wed, 06/18/2014 - 9:09pm
MJI's picture
MJI says:

I've not seen fireflies here in MN at least not in the Twin Cities ever. I may have seen soem in the Boundary waters or near the St. Croix, but not in the cities. They seem to be a smaller species that blinks fainter and later in the day than what I remember in WI.

About the cities: I used to live in Milwaukee, WI and they were quite common. The species I saw there was huge, like just short of an inch long. They were active just after sunset to dusk. Super bright and slow flying. They seemed to be thriving very well in a mostly urban environment. I'd see them from about July 4- early August.

I wonder if perhaps this species is just not adapted to colder temperatures? I wonder if weather may be something. That said I've never seen any preying mantises either. I never saw them in WI, though I've heard they are common in other states.

posted on Tue, 07/08/2014 - 8:53pm
Susan L's picture
Susan L says:

I remember seeing lots of fireflies in Lincoln, Nebraska growing up (long time ago in mid-60s). I would love to see if they could be introduced to the PNW. And their habitat supported throughout North America. Thanks!!

posted on Sun, 07/13/2014 - 11:06pm

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