Closeup of firefly on leaf © Don Salvatore
© Don Salvatore

Also known as lightning bugs, fireflies are neither bugs nor flies; they are actually beetles that light up using a chemical reaction in their lower abdomen (the bottom part of their body). Some of them light up in a specific blinking pattern, like a secret code that they use to “talk” with other fireflies and to find mates.

All fireflies belong to the same beetle family, although three groups have different ways of attracting mates: some fireflies make quick flashes, while other fireflies give long-lasting glows, and still others use invisible chemical signals. In North America, there are more than 150 species of fireflies in 16 genera. There are three main groups of flashing fireflies. Learn More >

There are two ways to observe fireflies: Watching their flying and flashing patterns from afar, and observing them up close to tell what kind they are and to tell males from females. Learn More >

Firefly Watch promo for Fireflies

Firefly Watch

Firefly Watch combines a fun summer evening ritual with scientific research. Join a network of volunteers by observing your own backyard all the while helping scientists map fireflies found in New England and beyond. Get Involved >