You may call them lightning bugs or fireflies but future generations might call them extinct.  Since a poll on YouGov says we in the Midwest and Iowa call them Lightning Bugs, for the purposes of this story, that's what we'll go with too.

For many of us, we have childhood memories of summer nights catching the quick flash of the lightning bug while running through a backyard or field.  Sometimes we'd put them in a jar to watch the flash of the little bugs (however they are not really bugs, they are actually beetles).

Future generations in Iowa might not be able to share the same memories as lightning bugs are disappearing around the world.

When Do We Normally See Lightning Bugs In Iowa?


Like many animals in the world, it all depends on the weather.  Their larvae live underground during the winter, mature during spring, and then emerge in early summer.  Any time from the end of May till the end of June.

Lightning bugs love the warm, humid weather so while the exact moment they will be out each year is still a mystery, scientists do know that temperature and rainfall have something to do with it.

Is It OK To Catch Fireflies?


One would think in a story about lightning bug populations declining it would be a quick and simple "No".  But that is not the case. says it's ok to do so.  Of course, you shouldn't catch them all, but if you do catch one and want to keep it in a jar be sure there are air holes, and put in some apple slices and wet coffee filter paper.

But, don't keep them in there for a long time.  They say after a day or two release the firefly back into the wild at night.

Why Are Fireflies Disappearing From The Night Sky?


There are many factors leading to the decline of fireflies...lightning bugs.  These include light pollution, pesticide use, and loss of habitat from development.  Scientists also believe poor water quality, invasive species, and in some areas over collecting can be a part of the problem as well.

Here Is How To Have More Lightning Bugs At Your House

  • Install water features
  • Allow logs to rot
  • Turn off your lights at night
  • No lawn chemicals
  • Plant a garden
  • Plant trees
  • Don't over-mow your lawn
  • Don't rake leaves and bag them up for the trash

Call them fireflies, call them lightning bugs, call them glowworms...that's an odd one.  Whatever you want to keep calling them, hopefully, your children and grandchildren can keep calling them a sure sign of summer in Iowa.

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