Oh Firefly, Where Art Thou?

Two Fireflies
Two Fireflies | Source

The firefly, otherwise known as the Lightening Bug is what I believe to be one of God's most fascinating creations. I have memories as a kid running around after dark chasing these tiny blinking lights that were dashing and moving about. Especially when we were at the lake or out in the middle of a pasture by a pond, there would be so many of them twinkling everywhere among the brush and bushes.. How beautiful they were and so magical to watch! I don't recall ever catching them and putting them in a jar like others have because I rarely ever caught one. They seemed to move so quickly plus I was too afraid that if I tried to grab one that I would probably squash it to death but I did love to chase them around and watch them do their "dance".

Firefly in Daylight
Firefly in Daylight | Source

What is a Firefly?

The firefly is actually a type of beetle that has wings and one of the more common ones in North America looks sort of like a sunflower seed. It's formal name is Lampyridae. There are actually many different types of them from all around the world but many of those live in North America. In general, fireflies prefer darker, humid areas. They seem to gravitate toward water, like around ponds or lakes. In many species both the female and the male can fly but in some species only the male can fly. The most fascinating thing about the firefly is their ability to light up but it is interesting to note that not all species of fireflies light up.

Why do Fireflies light up?

Fireflies are one of the most fascinating in the bug family because of their use of bioluminescence. This is just a fancy word for light that is emitted from a living organism. The light comes on as a result of a chemical reaction and is located under the lower abdomen of the firefly. The light is referred to as "cold light" because it does not produce heat. The light is used for a couple of different purposes. One of the main reasons they emit the light is to attract mates. Each species actually has its own flash pattern to attract mates of the same species. This helps the males and females to recognize one another. The other reason for the light is to warn enemies to stay away. The color of the light can be yellow, green or a very pale red and one species even has a bluish light. Even the larvae of a firefly glows and this is what some people refer to as a glow worm.

Firefly or Lightning Bug as some call them.
Firefly or Lightning Bug as some call them. | Source

When do Fireflies come out?

Firefly larvae live underground through the winter and they start to grow in the Spring and emerge in early summer to mate. There is a period of about two weeks and it varies from year to year, which is the fireflies mating season. Scientists do not know why it varies so much but they think that temperature and soil moisture may have something to do with it. After mating, female fireflies lay their eggs in moist soil or under the moist bark of a tree and larvae hatches from the eggs in about 4 weeks and continue to develop through several stages until they finally emerge for mating season. This cycle typically takes about two years!

Great Firefly Video!

Have You Seen any Fireflies lately?

An increasing concern and for reasons that are not fully understood, fireflies are getting more and more scant not only across the United States but also around world. I have been looking for them every summer for years with no luck. The last time I saw one was about three years ago. It was dusk and I was walking to my car to go home from a meeting, beside the building was a small field and I noticed a little blinking light dancing around and realized it was a firefly! I started to feel all giddy and looked around thinking that surely there must be more of them but I was wrong. There was only one firefly. I was happy to know that they were not completely gone but I still can't help but wonder what has happened to all of our beautiful fireflies.

Multiple fireflies dancing around..
Multiple fireflies dancing around.. | Source

What is Happening to the Fireflies?

There are several theories as to why the fireflies are disappearing. Here are a few of the more common theories:

  • Mosquito Control- Many cities and towns have special trucks that drive the streets in the neighborhoods and spray large doses of insecticide into the air which is supposed to help control the mosquitoes. A theory is that the insecticides could be killing the fireflies.
  • Wacky Weather- The weather these past few years as been increasingly erratic especially here in Texas. We do not have much of a spring anymore. It just goes from cold to hot basically. Are the fireflies having a hard time adjusting to changes in weather patterns? Fireflies do only dwell in certain conditions. They tend to stay around areas that are warm and humid so perhaps it's just too hot for them or maybe the humidity level is either too low or high. Maybe it has changed too much and they just can't adapt?
  • Lighting- Some people think maybe it is the lights in the city that is causing the fireflies not to see each others light patterns during mating season but fireflies have been seen inside city limits for years so apparently they do not have to have pitch dark in order to see each other to mate.
  • Fire Ants- It is said that fire ants could be to blame for the disappearance of fireflies because they are known to eat the larvae of fireflies. Since the firefly larvae do live in the soil, it makes them a suitable snack for the fire ants.

Beautiful Fireflies

Lightening Bugs
Lightening Bugs | Source
Lots of Fireflies
Lots of Fireflies | Source

Make a Firefly Habitat

Through data and research, it is suggested that fireflies tend to come back year after year to the same place. So if you are able to attract fireflies, you may be able to continue to have them return year after year, even if Joe Blow down the street never sees them in his yard at all. According to, here are a few things that you can do to create a firefly habitat:

  • Since they prefer darker places, try to keep any lights off on the exterior of your home at night. Also, shut the blinds or shades to minimize any light that comes from inside the house.
  • Plant trees in your yard and if you already have trees, leave some of the fallen leaves and litter from the trees. Some species of larvae live under the bark of moist logs and under the litter of trees. Pine trees are ideal because they provide a lot of shade plus and they have a lot of litter accumulation.
  • Most species of fireflies love to be around standing water so you may consider putting in a small pond or even a small stream or other water feature but make sure to avoid using any chlorine. It is suggested that fireflies eat the smaller insects, grubs and snails that thrive in natural ponds and streams.
  • Avoid using an pesticides on your lawn and only use natural fertilizers.
  • Don't over mow your yard. Fireflies prefer to be around long grasses. Try to incorporate a few patches of long grass into your landscape.
  • If you don't already have them, introduce earth worms. Firefly larvae love devouring them. You can buy them in bulk at places online and also at bait shops, since they are used a lot for fishing bait.
  • If you have neighbors, talk to your neighbors about your concern over the decreasing numbers of fireflies. Maybe they will hop on board and make some changes as well. The more people that get involved and make these changes, the more likely you will be seeing fireflies once again in your neighborhood.

How About You?

If you are interested in learning more about the fireflies, please visit It is a great website packed full of information about them. I can not help but ask, have you seen any fireflies in your neck of the woods lately? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Hopefully I have brought some awareness to the dwindling number of fireflies in our nation and around the world. I would love to hear your comments about fireflies or maybe you have a fond memory that you would like to share :0)

UPDATE 5/23/2012 :

I am happy to report that a few nights ago when I was dropping my stepdaughter off at her home in a suburb outside of Dallas TX, I saw some fireflies scattered here and there as I drove down the street in her neighborhood and then got to see a few in her yard. Yay! At least this time it wasn't just one :)

Comments 126 comments

Mary Conaway 5 weeks ago

I used to catch them all the time as a kid-and I grew up in the city!( Cleveland) I haven't seen one in many tears and really miss their beauty!

Mieko 2 months ago

growing up in central Maryland, in Anne Arundel County, with a 250 yard long field outside our fence. Almost any of the warmer months you could see a light show with hundreds of dancing. The past half a decade you are lucky to see more then a handful the whole year. Rather disappointing really. An my yard has a 5 acre field, 2 acres of woods, with a stream through it, as well as a hundred foot long pool, that has been a frog pond for 5 years, and is opaque with dark green color. So I have a great habitat for them, plus there is a low light pollution in my new Baltimore county residence. Hope that one day they flourish in numbers. Until then, I merely have memories, and Hopes for mychild's generation.

Tami 3 months ago

I live in Middle Tennessee and they're very prevalent around here! They came out sometime in May and are still going strong in July! My 10-year old son and I love watching and catching lightning bugs!

Deb 4 months ago

Last year I saw thousands of fireflies out one night, it was the most magnificent thing I have ever seen, magical and amazing to watch. I could have stood along the roadside for hours watching them. The location had everything you said, very dark because it is a small little town, tall grasses, lots of trees and a slow moving creek with some little ponds areas. Its a little town called Italy, NY. I hope to see them again this year and take my 80 year old mom since she talks about all the fireflies she used to see as kid growing up in a small farming town in Iowa on the Mississippi river. I wish I had caught it on video for the world to see!

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Jamie Brock 10 months ago from Texas Author

TahminasTake- Thank you so much for dropping by! They really are beautiful to watch.. I hope that you will be able to see them some time :)

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Jamie Brock 10 months ago from Texas Author

Kristen Howe, Thank you so much for dropping by! Glad you enjoyed the hub :)

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Kristen Howe 15 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Beautiful hub, Jamie. I haven't seen fireflies in a long time. Voted up for beautiful!

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TahminasTake 16 months ago

I have never seen fireflies in real life, but they look so magnificent. Can only enjoy the videos and pictures. But they definitely add some magic and hope to the scene, and maybe because of their glow.

Anyway, I really enjoyed your post and keep at it!

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Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas Author

TycoonSam - Shed some light.. hehe.. I was always too scared to try to catch them to put in jars.. they were so fast and was afraid I would squish them trying. How cute that you used to take them to bed with you.. I do imagine they would make a great night light :) Thank you for dropping by!

TycoonSam profile image

TycoonSam 3 years ago from Washington, MI

Jamie, Thank you for shedding some light on the subject of fireflies. No pun intended...

I do remember catching them as a kid and putting them in a mason jar and taking them to bed with me. When it wouldn't flash for a long period of time I would shake the jar and sure enough it would shed some light...sorry.

Voted up and interesting

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Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas Author

rajan jolly - Thank you.. so glad you enjoyed it! I agree.. they really are as fascinating as the twinkling of stars. I miss seeing them so much. Thank you for the vote up, positive feedback and for sharing!

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rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Well Jamie, I haven't seen fireflies lately, not even one. But years back when I was staying in the countryside, I did see hordes of them. They are indeed a fascinating sight to behold. Like the twinkling of stars!

Beautiful hub. Your dividers are absolutely amazing and blend so well with the topic in this hub.

Voting up, beautiful and sharing.

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

epigramman- Wow, what a beautiful comment, thank you! I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed my firefly hub :) I agree that nature gives many gifts of beauty and the firefly is definitely one of them. You are so lucky to live so close to the lake.. I have heard Lake Erie is gorgeous! Thank you for dropping by my hub and many blessings to you :)

epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

...oh dear me Jamie my heart is beating with delight after reading your most magic hub and it reminds me of all the times I've seen fireflies create ballet in the night air - as I live 100 feet away from lake erie and have the pleasure of being so close to nature and its many gifts of beauty - well like this hub - it's a gift of beauty - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 10:07pm with the almost full moon in the sky

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

billybuc- LOL! I know it, Bill. I should write about something else sometimes, should I?! Thank you for dropping by... I love the Fireflies.. they are one of my favorite things in the world.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I had to find a hub that wasn't about crafts, Jamie, because I don't have a craft bone in my body. Great hub! We don't have them here in Washington but I do miss them from my childhood days. Great suggestion about making a habitat for them. Loved this hub!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

tyoungjr- Wow, you are so lucky! I would love to see that many fireflies again.. Thank you so much for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub :)

tyoungjr 4 years ago

I live in Alexandria VA, and it must be a pretty magical place. Last month every night about 40-50 fireflies would come out to play and dance a beautiful number. Great post!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

eHealer- Thank you so very much.. I really appreciate that!!

eHealer profile image

eHealer 4 years ago from Las Vegas

This hub is absolutely famous! Great conversations and very interesting. I have emailed this one to lots of people that love it! Thanks!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

givans1980- Yes, it looks like you are in the same boat I am. I realized I hadn't seen them in years when I wanted my 4 year old son to see some and couldn't find any. For a long time, I just never did really look for them but when I did want to see them they were gone :( Now, I miss them terribly... and wish they would come back. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Thank you for stopping by!

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givans1980@yahoo. 4 years ago from Blackwell, OK

I thought maybe I was just imagining that there weren't as many fireflies. I remember they used to be all over the place in OK. This year, I've only seen two. How sad. I love fireflies!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

MikeR1- Thank you, I am glad that you stopped by! I bet your grandparent's cottage was absolutely beautiful with all the fireflies glowing... I would have loved to have seen that. We used to have a lot of them here but I'm sure there were even more in the area you are talking about and probably still is. It's just one more reason why I need to get the heck out of Texas LOL! Yes, hopefully things will change, and the fireflies will return again. I think it's possible. They are too beautiful not to be seen. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your childhood firefly memories :0)

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

CarlySullens- It's nice to hear this hub brought back good memories for you. It's those memories of my own that inspired me to write it. I miss them so much, too. Thank you so much for stopping by and I'm with you- I hope they come back ten folds. You never know, it could happen :) Take care!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

anusujith- Thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed it.

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

midget38- Thank you for dropping by.. I wish I could take credit for the photos but they are various photos from Flickr creative commons.. but yes, the photos are amazing! The boat ride you were describing sounds amazing. I bet it was a beautiful sight to behold seeing all those lights along the river!

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

urmilashukla23- Thank you, I feel very honored to receive HOTD. Yes, fireflies are amazing creatures for sure! I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thank you for stopping by and for the vote up!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

MargaritaEden- Thank you for stopping by and for such nice compliment! I'm glad this hub brought up happy memories for you :) I feel very honored to have gotten HOTD... take care!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

Hui- I'm happy that this hub brought up some memories for you that had been forgotten. It sounds like you are in the same boat I am.. though I did get to see a few of them not too long ago. Thank you for visiting my hub.. and best of luck to you :)

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

internpete- Thank you, it was such a wonderful surprise to see this hub got HOTD, I feel very honored! How wonderful that you are getting to see fireflies every night. You are so lucky!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

Peggy W- Hi Peggy, I had no idea about the larvae eating earthworms either! Sounds disgusting LOL! Anyway, I think the mosquito spraying probably does have something to do with them not being around much anymore but in cases where the West Nile Virus have been detected, it's definitely understandable- we have had a few cases turn up here too.

Anyway, nobody really knows for sure why they are decreasing so much. I wish we could figure it out and come up with some kind of solution.

Thank you for the vote up, positive feedback and for sharing!

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MikeR1 4 years ago from Denver, CO

I enjoyed reading your hub about fireflies and found it very informative. When I was growing up, each summer we would go to my grandparent's cottage in upstate NY that we called the lake. There were fireflies everywhere at night. We also called them lightning bugs. I would catch them all the time and put them in a jar and then let them go later. Upstate NY, not far above the Hudson River, had the perfect climate setting for them as you described in your hub. When I've visited relatives in New England and New Jersey here and there over the last few summers, I don't recall seeing the fireflies like I did as a child, but hope that will all change.

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

donnah75- Oh my Goodness, it sounds beautiful where you live..I'm sure the darkness has something to do with them staying around there. You are so lucky to be able to see them so often! Thank you for dropping by and for the vote up! I really appreciate it :)

CarlySullens profile image

CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

I miss these little guys. They are my favorite bug, and bring back so many positive memories. Thank you for an insightful hub. I hope they do come back ten folds.

anusujith profile image

anusujith 4 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

Wow amazing Hub....

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

You have really beautiful pictures of fireflies! I remember being on a boat ride in Malaysia and enjoying their presence by the river at night...the light of thousands of them was a sight to behold. I admire the close ups and this is a very informative hub! Thank you.

urmilashukla23 profile image

urmilashukla23 4 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

Lightening bugs are really fascinating creatures. Sad they are disappearing. Awesome written hub. Voted up. Congratulations on Hub of the day award!

MargaritaEden profile image

MargaritaEden 4 years ago from Oregon

Such a wonderful hub! Fireflies are magical, almost unreal, they make me think of my childhood, I made me go back in time, great hub! No wonder it was selected as a hub of the day, you so deserve it!

Hui (蕙) profile image

Hui (蕙) 4 years ago

This is a lovely hub reminding us of something important to us but we have forgotten for a long time. I only have memory of them in my childhood, but haven't seen them for years. Life supplies are becoming more and more, but we are deprived of some necessities.

internpete profile image

internpete 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

Nice hub! I live in Michigan currently, and in the last few weeks fireflies have been out every night! There have been lots of them and it has been fun watching them fly about. It is sad that some areas are losing fireflies because they are such fun to watch. Congrats on Hub of the day!

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Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Jamie,

I haven't thought about fireflies in quite some time. We always had them in the summertime in Wisconsin where I grew up as a child. Between the wooded areas and the fields, it was ideal for them from what I just read in your hub. I had no idea that the larvae ate earthworms!

We don't have much of a chance of seeing them where we live because our subdivision sprays once a week for mosquitoes. Since West Nile virus has been detected in the area, I am all for that.

Enjoyed this hub. Congrats on HOTD. Voted useful, interesting and will tweet.

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donnah75 4 years ago from Upstate New York

We have tons of fireflies where I live. My apartment overlooks a drop in the land, at the bottom of which is a stream and pond. It is all in the middle of a development of apartments and houses. Interestingly though, there are no street lights here, so the only lights are on the buildings. It can get a bit dark at times. Maybe that is part of the reason they stay here. Voted up.

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

The Dirt Farmer- Thank you, I feel so honored to get HOTD and I'm glad that you enjoyed the hub! It really is a mystery why some places have them and some just don't. I think the spraying definitely has something to do with it, though. That you so much for dropping by!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

heavvenleigh707- Thank you, It was such a nice surprise today, to learn about it. Glad you liked the hub... I love them so much and miss them too!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

ishwaryaa22- Thank you :) It is such an honor to get Hub of the Day!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

eHeeler- You are so welcome..I am so happy to hear this hub sparked some wonderful memories for you.... it did for me as well :) Oh, how I miss the fireflies!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

laksman011-Thank you, I'm glad this hub brought up nice memories for you. I had not thought about the reason why they lit up either until I started writing the hub...I was happy to learn about it too. Thanks so much for dropping by :)

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

polefit- You are so lucky to still be able to see so many fireflies! It's a mystery why some places have them and some don't, these days. I used to see them every night in the Summer when I was a kid but now, I never see them. It's nice to hear they are still around here in Texas though. Thank you for dropping by!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

Jennzie- Thank you for the vote up and for are so very lucky to get to see so many fireflies! It seems to be more the southern parts of the US I guess that are seeing the decrease, though there are some other places around the world that are seeing decreased numbers as well. The northern states do not seem near as affected. Thank you so much for dropping by!

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Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas Author

Thelma Alberts- Thank you, getting HOTD is truly an honor and thank you for dropping by to read my hub! I'm happy to hear this hub brought up great memories for you. I also understand about seeing only the one firefly, that happened to me too a few years ago. I've heard many similar stories like that. I truly hope they begin to increase in numbers again... they are too fascinating to be so few.

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