Lightning (or fireflies) put on a magical show this summer | Garden & Landscape

Marjie Ducey Omaha World-Herald

OMAHA – No, it’s not your imagination. You’ve seen more lightning bugs this year.

Some people also call them fireflies, said Nebraska Extension entomologist Jody Green, depending on where you live. They are actually bioluminescent beetles of the Lampyridae family.

Whatever the name, they put on a show this summer.

“We had a very dry winter, but many places had a wet spring which may have led to early emergence of adults,” Green said.

Jody Green provides habitat for larvae (leaf litter and overwintering shelter), shelter for adults (ornamental plants), avoids the use of pesticides so it does not sink into the soil or contaminate water and turn off the lights in the house at night to reduce light pollution.


High humidity also allows increased populations to grow and develop. The worm-like terrestrial larvae are predators of earthworms, snails, and slugs, which also thrive on surface moisture and vegetation.

Green said they had been hovering at dusk for a few weeks.

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“I have encouraged many people with young children to let them stay up after 8 p.m., at least to see the flashing of our fireflies or lightning bolts, she said.


Lightning bugs start out as larvae that look like worms.


All larvae are bioluminescent insects, which produce their own light. But not all glowworms become light-producing adults.

Last week, Green said he saw both the common eastern firefly and the black firefly. The black firefly is a diurnal firefly that does not produce light. It communicates using chemical signals called pheromones.

The common eastern firefly is also known as the large squint firefly, named for the quick, bright yellowish flashes produced by the light males as they fly upwards in a J-shaped curve. All of this flashing is part of the courtship of fireflies.

firefly 1

Ornamental plants provide shelter for adult fireflies.


Green said fireflies thrive in her home because she makes sure to remove as many threats as possible at this time of year to keep them breeding in her landscape.

It provides habitat for larvae (leaf litter and shelter for overwintering), shelter for adults (ornamental plants), avoids the use of pesticides so that it does not sink into the soil or contaminate the water and turn off house lights at night to reduce light pollution.

“If you’ve missed the show so far, it’s not too late,” she said. “Go outside when the sun goes down, wear your bug spray and watch the magic.”

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