Michigan fireflies are lighting up the night: What to know about them

If you haven’t stepped outside around dusk, you may not have noticed the light show in your backyard.

It's that time of year: Fireflies have taken over the night.

Fireflies, often called lightning bugs, are in the beetle family and use bio-luminescence during twilight to attract mates or prey.

A "cold light," meaning it doesn't carry infrared or ultraviolet frequencies, glows from their lower abdomen, usually looking greenish-yellow.

Here are some things to know about fireflies from Firefly.org:

They have short life spans: An adult firefly lives only long enough to mate and lay eggs—so they may not need to eat during their adult life stage. The larvae usually live for approximately one to two years, from mating season to mating season, before becoming adults and giving birth to the next generation.

Fireflies can be found all over the world: They live near ponds, streams, marshes, rivers and lakes, but they don’t need a lot of water to get by. Vernal pools and small depressions that hold water during firefly mating season can all provide the habitat fireflies need. Most firefly species live at the margins where forest or field meet water. They also love:

  • Humid, warm environments
  • Long grassy grounds

Fireflies are disappearing due to two main reasons: Human development and light pollution. Human light pollution is believed to interrupt firefly flash patterns. Scientists have observed that synchronous fireflies get out of synch for a few minutes after a car’s headlights pass. Light from homes, cars, stores, and streetlights may all make it difficult for fireflies to signal each other during mating—meaning fewer firefly larvae are born next season. Where fireflies once had uninterrupted forests and fields to live and mate, homes with landscaped lawns and lots of exterior lights are taking over. The reduction of habitat and the increase in lighting at night may all be contributing to make fireflies more rare.

More things to know:

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.