Jul 14, 2023 - Things to Do

Yes, Colorado has fireflies. And scientists want to learn more.

Fireflies in June 2022 in Mexico. Photo: Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Getty Images

Fireflies in June 2022 in Mexico. Photo: Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Getty Images

It's a dose of summer magic: Fireflies wafting in a darkening sky, flashing yellow and inspiring wonder.

  • This is a common sight in the eastern U.S. But fireflies live in Colorado, too.

What's happening: In the state's moist spots, such as wetlands and bogs, fireflies do their electric mating dance each June and July. And this wet year is making them more visible.

  • "A lot of native Coloradans have never seen a firefly, don't even know they exist out here," Beth Kittrell, a volunteer for Fort Collins Natural Areas, told the Colorado Sun. The organization offers popular "Light Up the Night" tours each summer.

The intrigue: Scientists don't know how many fireflies live here, or much about their lifestyles.

  • Butterfly Pavilion researchers just celebrated the first captivity breeding in the state.
  • "At heart, I am fascinated by these creatures and want to understand them," says Orit Peleg, an associate professor at the University of Colorado's BioFrontiers Institute. "They are so beautiful and captivating."

Be smart: Lightning bugs, as they're often called, are actually beetles and not flies.

How to help: You can join in the research. Record your sightings through the Colorado Firefly Watch.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.

More Denver stories