7 Fascinating Firefly Facts You Should Know

Updated: Jan. 26, 2024

When the sun goes down in summertime, fireflies light up. Discover more fascinating firefly facts about these extraordinary insects.

Firefly Facts Worth Knowing

Firefly factsSteven Puetzer/Getty Images
A closeup photo of a firefly

It’s a sure sign of summer when fireflies light up after the sun goes down. Learn fascinating firefly facts about these unique garden bugs.

Firefly Light Shows

In Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, one particular species of firefly (Photinus carolinus) synchronizes to create some beautiful bioluminescent displays.

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How Long Do Fireflies Live?

Firefly on a Yellow Flower, Whorled Coreopsis or Pot-of-goldCyndi Monaghan/Getty Images
Firefly on a coreopsis flower

Fireflies, also commonly known as lightning bugs, live as adults for about 21 days.

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Protect Firefly Habitat

If a field is paved over, the fireflies that lived there do not migrate to live in another field. Instead, the insects disappear entirely.

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Why Do Fireflies Light Up?

Nearly 100 percent of the chemical reaction in a firefly’s abdomen is released as light. They glow to find a mate, communicate with other members of their species, and to show predators that they are distasteful.

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What Color Are Firefly Lights?

Firefly light comes in three colors: yellow, orange, and green.

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Firefly Harvesting

From 1960 to the mid-1990s, the Sigma Chemical Co. paid collectors up to one penny per firefly, harvesting over 100 million lightning bugs and possibly reducing local populations. (The company sold luciferase, which is the enzyme that produces light in fireflies.)

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Firefly Festival

Actual fireflies are scarce around the bustling city of Tokyo, Japan. But during a firefly festival there, participants release 100,000 small glowing orbs on the Sumida River to imitate the insects’ quintessential glow.

Next, discover 11 fascinating monarch butterfly facts.