Fireflies or lightening bugs?

Tue. Jul. 9, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Fireflies or lightening bugs?

Depending on what part of the country you come from, they’re either fireflies or lightning bugs.


In the upper midwest, we kinda like both names!  The western half prefers firefly while the southeaster mid section prefers lightning bugs. Whatever you call them, young and old are enchanted by these glowing fliers.

When I was little, a long time ago!, it seemed they were everywhere!  Then, there weren’t… but the last five years or so, it seems they are more abundant again.

Check out the wonderful photos by Radim Schreiber on Firefly Experience. He has been photographing them for years. Here’s a little sneak peek at what he does…

photo by Radim Schreiber
photo by Radim Schreiber

Fireflies flash to find a partner.   The males will signal they’re available and the females then decide if they want to respond with their own flash. There are many species, how many live in the Upper Midwest, is still a slight mystery. However, they do have their own code.

Fireflies flash in different sequences and also have different colors. They’re neither a fly or a bug, they’re a beetle. They’re bioluminescence starts right away. They glow from egg to larvae to adult. And they eat slugs. I knew I liked them!

There used to be a website called Firefly Watch through the Museum of Science, they would report where people were seeing fireflies and try to count them. The page is now gone and archived on their “Way Back Machine”. I hoping that’s good news because so many fireflies are back!!!