ARKANSAS, USA — It's a magical time of year. Looking from your back patio watching twinkling lights not in the sky, but over the yard and into the forest -- it is a fond memory that many people have from growing up and playing on spring and summer nights. Lightning bugs and fireflies are common, especially in the eastern and central U.S.
But which do you call them? Lightning bugs? Fireflies? Well it depends on where you are from.
Tap here for more on fireflies.
WEST & NORTH: Fireflies
MIDWEST & SOUTH: Lightning Bugs
Major cities tend to call them fireflies as well.
While everyone knows what they liked to call these glowing, flying insects, not everyone gets to see them.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
Lightning bugs tend to like warm, temperate, humid climates. In the U.S. it is most common to see them west of the Great Divide (or the eastern half of the country). Late spring and summer are a perfect because the evenings are humid, either from the Gulf of Mexico or the crops in the Midwest.
Fireflies also love water sources. Rivers, marshes, swamps, small lakes, and drainage ditches can be a great place to look for these insects. Much of the eastern half of the U.S. has more rainfall to lead to more water sources compared to the west.
Some fireflies can be found in the warmer mountains out west, but they are not as common, due to more arid conditions.
WHY DO THEY LIGHT UP?
According to firefly.org, these insects use their beacons in order to attract a mate. They have a short adult lifespan for mating, only 3-4 weeks. That's why in late summer you may not see many more lightning bugs, even when it is still humid.
DECLINING LIGHTNING BUG POPULATIONS
Talking with folks around Arkansas, many people have noticed fewer fireflies, especially in cities and suburbs. According to firefly.org, populations have decreased thanks to habitat destruction and light pollution. They use their own lights to attract a mate and to signal to one another.
So how can we increase the chance for lightning bugs in our own backyards? We have to focus on habitat, water, and light.
-5NEWS Weather Team