Big news for the local bug-loving community: Last month, the Butterfly Pavilion saw the emergence of its very first lab-bred adult fireflies as part of its Firefly Lifecycle Project, an initiative born in 2019 dedicated to breeding native Colorado fireflies in order to learn more about their life cycles and sustainability needs.
Wait, Colorado has fireflies?
Yes! They can be found in small populations along the Front Range from Greeley to Pueblo. They require wet habitats and can be seen lighting up the evening sky for a few short weeks in June and July (mating season).
What did researchers learn?
The team at BP took notes about the kind of environmental factors — from diet to shelter to temperature — that will best help this species thrive. Fireflies serve as an indicator species for wetland habitats; their health directly indicates the overall health of their surrounding ecosystem.
BP will continue to study this species and other fireflies native to Colorado with the goal of breeding a sustainable population in the lab as part of conservation efforts — and you can help! The next time you see fireflies, report the sighting to the Colorado Firefly Project and the Natural History Museum of Utah.
Where can I see fireflies in Colorado?
If you know where to look, you can spot the little lightning bugs in Fort Collins, Loveland, Boulder, and even Littleton! Check out this list of firefly viewing spots from the Butterfly Pavilion.
Interesting firefly facts:
- Fireflies are not flies at all, but beetles!
- Once they reach adulthood, they only live for a few weeks
- Each firefly species has its own distinct flashing “language”
- The females of some species are known to flash patterns of other species to attract those males, which they then kill and eat