Fireflies Aren’t Flies - Carolina Country

Fireflies Aren’t Flies

And other mind-blowing lightning bug facts

Fireflies Aren’t Flies

Fireflies (or lightning bugs) love warm, humid evenings, and they’ll likely be lighting up your yard soon. But did you know …

  • They love the dark. Artificial lights may interfere with firefly activity. Observe them around your home with indoor and outdoor lights on. Try another night with all lights off. Do you see more fireflies then?
  • Look for the “J.” The males of the Big Dipper firefly (Photinus pyralis), common in North Carolina, fly in a swooping “J’ pattern when they glow.
  • They aren’t flies. They’re beetles, and there are roughly 2,000 different species.
  • Some may never eat. During their adult stage, that is, which is only long enough to mate and lay eggs. Larvae can live for one to two years.
  • They’re energy efficient. Bioluminescence (their flashing) is nearly 100% efficient, meaning little energy is wasted to produce their light. An incandescent light bulb is only 10% efficient, emitting 90% of energy as heat.
  • Use a net to catch fireflies and always treat them gently. You can keep them in a jar with a lid punched with air holes and a moist paper towel at the bottom, but release them within 24 hours, preferably at night when they can avoid predators.
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