Firefly Sightings

  • Catching fireflies is an important part of summer.
  • Help us track where people are seeing fireflies in their backyard.
  • Submit your sightings on the map and connect with others who spotted fireflies in your area.

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Firefly Stories

This is the place to tell us how you brought fireflies back in your yard, the changes in population you've observed in your area, or the fun time you had catching fireflies with your kids. If it's a story, and if it's about fireflies, post it here.

Be one of the first to publish a story on the site! Email us your story, name, location, and any Google+/Twitter profile links (to credit you) and we will post it promptly for all to see!

Camp Wyandot

Fireflies are Real - Lorrie Scott

When I was in Kindergarten my mother read nursery rhymes to me. The thick book included Humpty Dumpty, faeries, and many other poems of make believe, including a rhyme about fireflies. The summer between my junior and senior year in high school, 1970, I traveled from Seattle to Columbus to be an exchange camper at Camp Wyandot. I arrived the evening before my session began and my kind host took me to camp to let me settle in before all the campers arrived the next day. She dropped her things off in her cabin while I waited outside. The sun had set and twilight made it difficult to make out shapes and the treed landscape. I began to see sparks everywhere. Should I say something? Perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me.

I spoke up since this woman did not seem to notice the sparks that surely could lead to a forest fire. The look she gave me was one crazy glance, then laughter. Once I learned that fireflies were real, we all laughed! I was often introduced to new people which followed with the sparks of fire story. I went on to be staff while in college. This summer, after a 40 year absence, I returned. There were fewer lightning bugs, but just like the teenager years ago, I sat and watched these remarkable insects, in awe. Wish they lived on the west coast.

West Virginia

Eating Fireflies by Laura M. Painter

When my kids first moved to West Virginia from Hawaii, they had never seen fireflies. They were scared of them at first, so I ate one, to show them not to be afraid. The kids call them Flashing Bugs. And the name stuck, now all the kids and even some of the grown-ups now call them flashing bugs. I like the name, so we no longer call them lightning bugs, they're flashing bugs.

Fort Worth, Texas

Zen Fireflies by Karen Murdock

The sun slowly melts into a pool of burnt orange and vibrant shades of delicious pink kiss the horizon, a warm breeze blows gently through the trees in Fort Worth, Texas and just as darkness settles in an ethereal dance of love begins. Like tiny shooting stars, these magical little creatures flicker and dance and give me my dose of Zen at the end of a long day.

We live high on a hill in a rather rural area with 8 dogs, 2 greedy goats, a crazy cat and dozens of our Fort Worth Family Fireflies. My favorite time of the day is going out on our deck and waiting for our glowing family members to come and say their special hello. I can't help but smile every time I see one shoot across our back garden leaving a luminescent trail behind. When you behold the true magic that these little winged acrobats perform, it literally lights up your soul!

I'm originally from Houston, Texas and I had only seen fireflies a few times in my life until we moved to Fort Worth a little over a year ago. Last year was the first time I had ever witnessed this magical site. I would go out every evening right before sunset so I could watch their amazing ritual. I sat mesmerized as these tiny flying lights blinked their way into my heart. I truly hope we can find a way to keep these fabulous florescent friends around for future generations to see. The world will not be so bright, without fireflies to watch at night.

Bonne Terre, Missouri

Fireworks and Fireflies by Mike Mitchell

Where I grew up, in Bonne Terre, Missouri, we called them lightning bugs and there was little evening entertainment more enthralling than chasing those flashes around the yard with a mayonnaise or jelly jar. We would punch holes in the lid with an ice-pick and throw in a few sprigs of fresh grass; for them to eat of course! The same jars were used day after day, week after week - catching lightning bugs in the evenings and honey bees during the day. We put clover in the jars for the honey bees. What fun to catch the flying luminaries and then let them go all at once after the count and the winner was declared.

The most interesting story, however, that I could tell about lightning bugs took place after I was an adult. Life events had taken me to Texas when I was thirteen and I grew up and went to work in my new home. However, in 1983 I moved my family to Villa Grove. Villa Grove was a small town in central eastern Illinois. We quickly learned that community events were "the" entertainment in smaller towns like Villa Grove. Everyone would gather, visit, enjoy each other's company and plan for the next bazar, auction or other varied event. Villa Grove was too small to have it's own Forth of July celebration, but nearby Tuscola had a fireworks display each year, presented by the volunteer fire department. Everyone for miles around would come and empty their change and a few bills into the boots that the volunteers held out when leaving the city park. This might seem like an unusual setting for lightening bugs, but it's one that I won't forget and neither will our friends who lived in Tuscola and invited us each year we were there to attend with them.

As we settled in on or blankets and chairs the sun sank and darkness pressed in. The event began with the usual array of fountains, and flags and moved on into the aerial barrage of colors and light. Some of the aerial fireworks were just a very loud "bang" and an intense explosion of white light. That's when my friend noticed that the lightning bugs would all seem to flash at the same time immediately after the very bright flash of the fireworks. They did it again and again, only in response to that particular type of firework. I was, frankly, amazed. I had never seen anything like it - until the next year. Again we gathered, darkness came and the event began and, again, in response to the same bright flash and explosion all the lightning bugs flashed at the same time - again and again. I've never done any reading to see if that is some type of automatic or conditioned response, but I wish I could have capture it on video because if was every bit as entertaining as the production put on by the volunteer fire department and not once did I have to pay those little bugs for their show.

Steeleville, MO

Fireflies and Tree Frogs

Last summer we were in Steeleville, MO at a place called wildwood springs lodge walking up through the woods from the river. The tree frogs were singing as the sun was setting. We turned around to notice that the fireflies were twinkling in synchronicity with the tree frogs! What a fabulous light show it created. We just sat and watched in awe. Submitted by Elaine Charlemagne, Kirkwood, MO

Marriottsville, Maryland

Classical Music Firefly Show

Lightning BugsOne evening many summer's ago I was relaxing on the deck watching 10's of thousand's of fireflies. I had grown up catching them in jars, but I had never seen them in such huge numbers. Some of the trees bordering our yard were 40 feet high and many were flying above the trees. It was spectacular. It reminded me of a laser light show I had seen years before except this was peaceful with just the undulating firefly dance. Adding classical music gave me an unforgettable event more memorable than the laser light show. Each year since there has been fewer and fewer of those tiny blinking darlings. Some years it seems that I have been able to count them. I now realize that was the year my husband's lawn tractor was broken. Because there is high demand for mower repairs during the summer, the mower didn't come back for weeks and weeks. So the grass grew and grew. And so did the number of lightening bugs. Now that I know next year there will be more uncut grass. Submitted by Sherryl Shea, Marriottsville, Maryland

Uvongo, South Africa

Fireflies in Uvongo, South Africa

We are privileged to live in a lovely home, set in a beautiful garden with natural rock which meanders down to the indigenous bush which forms part of the Uvongo River Conservancy. We have lived in this house for going on 6 years now and are privileged to share our garden with a troup of 25 vervet monkeys (who visit almost every day), a pair of bushy tailed mongoose, a pair of blue duiker, various snakes and a host of both ground and tree hyraxes, in amongst all of this, the bird life is prolific (including birds of prey) with many nesting in and around the natural bush and vegetation.

My story begins just over two years ago, when I looked out of our “sun room” window one night to see “a light” glowing down near the swimming pool (our swimming pool is set in the natural rock and the surrounding rock has beautiful indentations that fill up with rain water often during the year (our climate is sub-tropical on the East Coast South Africa). I thought there was someone down there with a torch (we had never had fireflies in our garden before - or not any that we had seen!), I called my husband, he went down but couldn't see them - to me they were shining brightly. I was mesmerised. The following night they were back only now they had moved up the pathway towards the house, my husband still couldn't see them.

A week later I saw them just outside the sun room window in my garden under the tree - this time my husband saw them as well! Over the next couple of weeks we saw them constantly, the one night we had one in our lounge, later that night when went to bed and switched off the lights there was one in our bedroom (the same one? - I'm not sure). Six weeks later we found out that we were to be grandparents for the first time! We were thrilled and so excited, however as things turned out that pregnancy was terminated at 5½ months and our precious baby died. During these 5½ months our garden was often visited by fireflies, we even had them on the side of our house flying against the window. Were they the messengers of new life? Submitted by Bev van Vuuren, Uvongo, South Africa

Firefly Story:Christianity

According to one story, a guardian angel rescued a traveler by sending a firefly to light up the way. The prothorax and elytra of the firefly form a cross which has led to the insect being regarded as a bringer of good fortune.

Fun Fact:Alchemists

Alchemists used to put fireflies in jars and announced that they could make them shine during the day. This was probably a trick to impress an audience or crowd of people.

How to Catch Lightning Bugs

Tips on how best to catch lightning bugs or fireflies. | More

Creating Firefly Habitats

What kind of habitat do fireflies like? Why do they like standing water? | More

Share Your Firefly Story

This is the place to tell us how you brought fireflies back in your yard. | More

How to Help Fireflies

There are a few things you could do to help to restore fireflies in your backyard | More

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