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Nature’s fireworks show: Glowing fireflies lighting up Utah

Posted on June 19, 2013
In more than 30 years of collecting insects in Utah, BYU entomologists say they had not found fireflies until last year. Credit: Brian Wilcox

In more than 30 years of collecting insects in Utah, BYU entomologists say they had not found fireflies until last year. Credit: Brian Wilcox

Thousands of pyrotechnic, flashing fireflies are making a rare appearance in Utah this summer, evidence that these bioluminescent insects may be establishing larger populations in the west, according to Brigham Young University researchers.

“People don’t think they’re here in the west because fireflies are traditionally an eastern species,” says biology professor Seth Bybee, who studies firefly and dragonfly populations. “But we definitely have flashing fireflies now in Utah.”

In more than 30 years of collecting insects in Utah, BYU entomologists say they had not found fireflies until last year, when Spanish Fork residents reported the flickering fliers hovering over a hay field.

This month, Bybee collected flashing fireflies from a large population in a marshy area near Goshen; other populations have been seen in Ogden, the Uinta mountains, Escalante and St. George. Although the light show will be gone this year in a flash (since the species only flashes during mating season), fireflies may soon be more common in the west.

“I anticipate that we will probably find more populations now that we know the kind of environment to look in and the time of year,” says BYU biology professor Michael Whiting. “The sightings have thus far been very rare and it is a mystery why they have gone so long without detection.”

Read more at: Phys.org

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