Firefly: Key Facts

Did you know that not all firefly species produce light? Or that they can be found in every state throughout the U.S. as well as much of the world? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll explore these and other firefly key facts.

Quick Facts About Fireflies

Scientific Name:Lampyridae
Type of Organism:Insect: Beetle
Number of Species:2,000
Physical Description:Small to medium-sized, oblong winged beetles. Usually dark-bodied, with a head-shield containing red, yellow, orange, or brownish markings. Most fireflies have bioluminescent abdomens which glow or flash greenish-yellow to amber light. The females of some species are flightless and may be called glow worms.
Distribution:Found on every continent except Antarctica.
Habitat:Can live in a variety of habitats, especially meadows, grasslands, wetlands, and wooded areas.
Size:Varies by species; 0.20 to 1 inch long
Diet:Varies by species and life stage; foods include:
– Soft-bodied insects and invertebrates
– Nectar and pollen
– Other fireflies
– Nothing at all
Lifespan:Varies by species; usually 1 to 2 years from egg to adult.
Life Stages:Four:
– Egg
– Larva
– Pupa
– Adult

What Are Fireflies?

Fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, are a type of beetle that is found throughout the world. There are around 2,000 species of firefly, and nearly 200 of those are found in the United States.

Fireflies are known for their bioluminescent abdomens, which flash green or yellow light at dusk or after throughout the summer months. Their bodies are usually dark; some have pale stripes down their wing plates, and most have a colorful shield of sorts behind their tiny head.

Fireflies lay eggs in late summer; the eggs hatch and live underground as larvae, where they feed on other insects and invertebrates until the weather begins to cool. They then go into hibernation for the winter.

In early spring, they begin feeding again and, in late spring, they pupate. Finally, the adult fireflies emerge in early summer, when they mate and lay eggs to begin the cycle all over again.

Fireflies live in a variety of habitats, but they thrive in warm, humid areas. They are often found living near ponds and streams, in forested areas, and around temperate grasslands.

What U.S. States Do Fireflies Live In?

Fireflies can be found in every state throughout the U.S. Interestingly, though, the ones found west of Kansas don’t produce any light.

Remember, there are around 2,000 species of firefly. While many of them are bioluminescent, many of them are unable to glow.

These non-glowing fireflies are the ones predominantly found in the west. Meanwhile, the fireflies that glow are far more common the further east you travel.

Some areas in the eastern United States are world-famous for their fireflies. The Great Smoky Mountains have some impressive firefly displays which draw crowds of tourists each year.

Florida and Georgia have the most firefly species in the U.S.; each state is home to 50 individual species. Again, though, not all of these species produce light.

Check out this video to learn more about the incredible shows put on by synchronous fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:


Fireflies can be found throughout the world, and there are many different species. In the United States, all of the firefly species found in the western half of the country don’t actually produce light; meanwhile, those found in the east are well-known for putting on some of the most unique light shows in the world.

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