By Paula Dittrick
Has it been awhile since you saw a firefly or lightning bug? FireFlyers International Network (FIN) celebrated World Firefly Day 2020 during the July 4 weekend. FIN’s theme was “Hope rising” for the online celebration (Youtube channel and the FIN Facebook group) given health concerns amid the pandemic. FIN is an international group of firefly scientists, conservationists, and enthusiasts.
If you cannot see fireflies in your own yard or neighborhood, Youtube features an excellent and very-relaxing video by Diana Lehr, which is well worth watching. The link for that video can be found at the bottom of this blog.
Fireflies belong to a family of beetles called Lampyridae. The Texas Master Naturalist textbook says fire ants are believed to have affected firefly populations, p. 428. Wizzie Brown, an entomologist with Texas Agrilife Extension Service in Travis County, is among the authors of Unit 13, Entomology.
Brown said fireflies typically are most active during a rainy spring, adding they like moist areas such as wetlands. She suggests people are more likely to observe fireflies this year simply because people probably watch nature more closely while taking coronavirus stay-at-home precautions.
Tufts University biology professor and firefly expert Sara Lewis wrote the book Silent Sparks published by Princeton University Press in 2016. Lewis reports almost 2,000 species of fireflies worldwide, saying different species have evolved in different ways. For instance, blinking lights are the mating ritual for most, but not all, fireflies. The book includes a North American firefly field guide.
Separately, FIN features more information on its website. As the FIN facebook page says: “Flash on!”