Citizen Scientists Needed for Firefly Watch

Monday, June 19, 2017

Salt Lake City — Spotting fireflies in Utah is still a rare treat, but more and more residents are answering the call of local scientists searching for firefly habitats. It all started in 2013, when Christy Bills, Entomology Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum of Utah, teamed up with Seth Bybee, an evolutionary biologist at Brigham Young University to create a Citizen Science project enlisting Utahn’s to help them track firefly populations.

 

“We love that Utahn’s have caught the bug, so to speak,” says Bills. “Now we’re calling on people living in or around the areas of Beaver, Carbon, Emery, Sanpete, Tooele, Washington and Weber counties to keep an eye out for the tell-tale blinking lights that signify firefly courtship season. Our hope is to learn all we can about the firefly species here in Utah and eventually in other western states.”

 

So far, Utahn’s have reported sightings from as far south as Lake Powell and as far north as Bear Lake. Now researchers are hoping to widen the search by reaching out to nature lovers in areas where very little data currently exists.

 

But the time for data collection is short, as this magical firefly mating ritual lasts just less than 2 months — typically from the end of May through early July. When it’s not mating season, these beetles from the Lampyridae family spend most of their time in their larval stage, making them nearly impossible to find.

 

The best hours to view the little blinkers begins just after dark—somewhere between 9:30 and 10pm. Most sightings occur in damp pastures, wetlands, marshes and other muddy places not impacted by human-created light.

 

Not yet a believer in fireflies west of the Mississippi? Then check out the reported sightings and get out in nature to see for yourselves. Please remember to respect public and private lands and all natural creatures, and report any firefly sightings online.

 

Helpful Links

Citizen Science Project (Report Your Sightings here):

 

Additional Firefly Info:

 

Firefly News Articles: