Let's Find Fireflies!

Written by Beth Heller
    Thursday, 21 June 2018
Let's Find Fireflies!

Milwaukee’s summer months are filled with light! Throughout the city there are fireworks, stage lights, tiki torches and people coming together to enjoy the weather. But if you are looking to spend time away from the massive crowds and hard streets, you don’t need to look very far: nature offers its own set of lights!

A special part of summer is the sudden, floating glow of a firefly. Wait, are they “fireflies” or “lightning bugs”? Both common names are used to describe the same insect family and both are misleading. These glowing, six-legged creatures are beetles, not flies or bugs.

I like to call them by their scientific name: Lampyridae (I usually emphasis the “LAMP”). Not only is this name more accurate, but its Greek root means “shine” or “torch.” These beetles rest during the day and fly at night in a glowing ritual to attract a mate – creating the magical show we enjoy as both children and adults! Not only are they beautiful, but they are beneficial as well. The Lampyridae larvae are carnivorous: feeding on insects that are pests to our gardens and crops.

Glowing firefly on grass

This summer, the Urban Ecology Center is partnering with the Milwaukee Public Museum for a joint firefly monitoring project. Join us for our Firefly Monitoring Kickoff Celebration on June 28, or our July and August Firefly Monitoring outings in Riverside Park.

Let's take some time this summer to get out into nature and look for its lights!


Main text originally from "Summer Lights", June 2017

Beth Heller

Beth Heller

Senior Director of Education and Strategic Planning, Beth received her Masters in Business Administration from UW-Milwaukee in 2005, where she received the Outstanding Business Plan award for a plan to launch a branch of the Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park. She graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 1994 with a B.A. degree in Biology and Education. Beth began working at the Urban Ecology Center in 2000 to combine her love of the city with her appreciation of nature. Beth loves to sail, bike, sing and hike.


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