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Have you seen a firefly?

8 Answers
Where do fireflies live?
F

I still see fireflies (which are actually a type of beetle) in our yard on occasion but they are not as common as they use to be when I was growing up in this area. They use to be fairly common all across the eastern half of the country wherever there was suitable habitats for the native species. In fact along some creeks and rivers there use to be large groupings of them which would gather each year during their breeding season. They would gather together in trees and bushes along the bank and all start flashing in unison after a while to attract mates.

There is ongoing research into why the populations of many firefly species seem to be decreasing with theories ranging from loss of habitat, use of pesticides, and an overabundance of fireants, to light pollution and more frequent droughts, all being put forward. Fireflies like damp humid, undisturbed, environments for the most part, like forests, meadows, and marshes. The females lay their eggs either in damp soil or on low growing vegetation near the ground.

The beetle larvae hatch out in the late summer. In some species even the eggs and the larvae (called glowworms) glow went disturbed. Firefly larvae look like segmented slender grubs and they are predatory eating soft bodied slugs, snails, earthworms, and other soil living organisms. Some will overwinter and become flying adults next summer while some species spend up to two years in the soil as larvae. Being larvae which cannot move at any speed, they are easily killed off by any change in their habitat such as long periods of drought, the soil being turned for agriculture, the paving over of the ground, or the use of strong toxins on the soil.

Once the larvae mature and go through a pupal stage, they become winged adults which fly into the warm summer nights searching for mates. They flash their sexual intentions for all, including other fireflies to see
in hopes of attracting a mate. Some species are tricky though and the females will blink their lights in a pattern that mimics females of other species. When an unlucky male of that other species arrives to check out the sneaky female, she eats him as a nourishing meal. It has been found that artificial lights can disturb fireflies and keep them from finding mates. Many of the adults only live for a week or two so if they can't find a mate within that time period, their potential to carry on the species is lost.

There is an ongoing research project currently collecting data from people across the country on firefly sightings. It has been going on since 2008 and is free to join and participate in, if anyone would like to help them learn more about fireflies. Just go to the site, https://legacy.mos.org/fireflywatch/about_firefly_watch
and sign up. You only have to spend 10 minutes of your time watching and recording when you see fireflies each week during the summer, and then post your results on their site. You can also look over the data they have collected so far and find out more about what you can do to help preserve fireflies.

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Fireflies are members of the beetle family. The larvae, which live about a year?from mating season to mating season?dwell underground. It's interesting to know all stages of the firefly glow and even the eggs flash in response to stimulus.

At maturity, fireflies rise to the ground's surface. During the daylight hours, nocturnal fireflies hide in tall grass or foliage, especially around ephemeral pools. At dusk they emerge and light up to attract mates, lure prey and discourage predators. The males usually fly while the females wait in trees. The flashing of fireflies serves as a warning to their predators. Fireflies exude blood when attacked in a process called reflex bleeding. The blood is bitter and poisonous to some animals.

Here in Illinois we call fireflies 'lightning bugs'. My yard will be teeming with fluorescent fireflies, especially during that window between dusk and darkness, once the weather becomes warmer. It's like a private fireworks display every night.

When we were kids we used to capture fireflies and put them in jars with holes punctured in the lids. We always considered the bugs that emitted a green glow instead of the usual yellow color, good luck. Fireflies illuminate intermittently so they can be tricky to catch. As soon as you close in on them, they go dark. Since daylight has waned by the time lightning bugs take flight, they can be very difficult to see when they aren't lit up. Chasing lightning bugs is great fun, though, and still a good way to occupy the kids.

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We see fireflies, or "lightning bugs" as many Texans call them, every summer, and I love them!

I grew up seeing fireflies as a kid, and there is just something so magical about them. As an adult, when my family lived in the city, we almost never saw them, but now that we have moved to a semi-rural setting, we do see fireflies every summer, at least so far.

Fireflies love to hang out where there is tall grass and brush, but our neighborhood has strict landscaping and mowing regulations. Luckily, however, portions of our neighborhood back up to a natural field, and so the fireflies love to hang out in the yards which border these natural areas. We see fireflies mainly at dusk. It doesn't matter how old my children get, they always get excited and exclaim "I just saw some! Look -- over there!" when they see fireflies.

It will be sad when/if that field is developed and the fireflies are chased away. People here are also seem to be crazy in love with chemical weed and bug controls, so I know those poisons aren't helping the firefly population at all, either.

Summer is coming! I'm looking forward to the firefly show every night.

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G

Hello Stylis84 I live in a semi-suburban area in Southwest Missouri. Every summer my daughter and I watch the lightning bugs flit across our yard and into a neighboring field of tall grass and some brush.
The species of firefly we have in our area are not as tied to wet marshy areas as some of the firefly species. There are no areas of standing water or heavily soaked ground anywhere close to our home and yet we always have a magical display every day during the summer at dusk.

When I was a kid on the farm, I only lived about six miles away from where I live now. My youngest brother and I always begged our mom for a small jar we could put holes in the lid and use to capture fireflies in. We would keep the lightning bugs for a day or two, then release them and catch new ones. We kept changing the captive fireflies out all summer.

My daughter was never interested in capturing any of the lightning bugs. She just liked to sit and watch them twinkle at each other.

A very nice question. Thank you for reminding me of some great memories from my youth!

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P

When I was growing up, I saw them all of the time. I lived on the edge of a small, rural community and a large corn field was across the road from our house. It was quite a light show on warm summer nights to watch the fireflies come out and blink. They rose like a lighted blanket above the corn stalks and from our yard. We caught some in a jar sometimes and were mesmerized with how they glowed and then we would release them. I moved to a city and sadly did not see them often because they did not have the right environment to thrive and people used so much pesticide on their lawns. I missed seeing them in the summer. I have now moved out of the city and I am thrilled to see them again. They are not nearly as numerous as they once were but certainly a welcome sight again.

Fireflies are in the beetle family and there is about 2000 species of them. They love moisture, humidity and warmth. The female lays eggs in the ground and that is where the larvae develop into adults. The blinking pattern helps them find a mate.

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I live in a rural area in the midwest U.S. and we have a spectacular firefly display every summer night. It's really beautiful to sit on the back patio and watch the light display. I have a large yard with 100 year old trees so they seem to enjoy the environment.

Fireflies do not do well in drought. Last summer, we had extremely high temperatures for days on end and it was quite dry, so I did not see nearly the level of firefly activity normally seen.

I remember watching these creatures as a child and being mesmerized by how they lit up the dark summer nights. I still find them fascinating and appreciate their light show.

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V

We get fireflies by the thousands in the summer, here in Southeast Michigan. As for where they live, their habitat tends to be similar to mosquitoes. They love standing water, like marshes and wetlands. As for their range, that depends on which species you're looking at. there are more than 2000 types. They're found pretty much around the world, and especially in hot, humid climates.

Here, in the US, some species are found across the map, but most are only found East of Kansas. Scientists are not entirely sure why that is.

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I grew up in New York, and we would see fireflies in the warm summer evenings. Now I live in Florida, but there are no fireflies here at all. When I was a child, I remember running around the backyard with a jar, and trying to catch one!

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