where to seek fireflies

Fireflies don't thrive everywhere. But they are also much more widespread than we often believe. Why? Because to see fireflies you need to be at the right place, at the right time... and in the dark! Few people venture into the woods at night and turn off their flashlights. Not to mention that today's nights are getting brighter due to surrounding light pollution.

In the United States, it is well-known that fireflies illuminate midsummer nights all along the East Coast and deep into the South and Midwest. But perhaps surprisingly, scattered populations also exist all across the American West, even in the high desert. These populations are small, resilient but often vulnerable, and not very well identified nor understood.

Thanks to recent crowdsourcing efforts, initiated notably by Christy Bills at the Natural Museum of Utah, we are starting to collect more information about these rare and eclectic Western firefly populations. Contributed observations from a myriad of amateur naturalists have slowly but steadily populated a fascinating map of fireflies in Utah and across the Southwest — maybe there is one near you? You too can submit you own sigthings on the project's page.

Chasing fireflies is a kind of poetic treasure hunt. One needs to decipher the map to find what might be proper habitat and consider the right time of year for emergence. A fair amount of nightly wanderings, and a little bit of luck, also helps. So trust your eyes, step into the woods, and try to discover the living sparkles.

blue ghost