Can Fireflies Be Found in Colorado?
It's common to see lightning bugs glowing low in the sky during the summertime in the midwest and eastern portions of the country, but do these little, luminous insects exist in Colorado?
Although their population is limited, fireflies can actually be found throughout Colorado. And while these insects were first introduced in eastern America, the Centennial State has at least one native species that researchers currently know of.
A majority of fireflies in this state are “dark”, or non-glowing. That, and having an overall low population, explains why Coloradans don't see these bugs as frequently as people do in other regions of the country.
However, at least one species of glowing fireflies can be spotted lighting up the night sky in Colorado. According to scientists who have studied these insects, there are also a few genera of “flashing” fireflies in the state as well.
These specific species of fireflies use their flashing lights to communicate with each other. The female lightning bugs also lure males in with their flashing patterns and then proceed to eat them.
According to Colorado State University Entomologist Tristan Darwin Kubik, fireflies can even be found in Fort Collins. In the summer, once the sun goes down, two good places to look for these creatures in town are Riverbend Ponds Natural Area and Reservoir Ridge Natural Area. The Coloradoan once noted that mid-June to mid-July is the best time for viewing fireflies in Fort Collins. You may not be able to collect an entire jar full like the can in places like Ohio or Pennsylvania, but it's still cool to watch these glowing insects up close.
A Colorado resident confirms that another location to get a glimpse of lots of glowing lightning bugs is during the summertime at Valley Vista Hot Springs. This remote area is part of the Orient Land Trust in Moffat.
Through the Firefly Life Cycle Project, Colorado's Butterly Pavilion is taking major efforts to help expand the populations of fireflies within the state. In 2017, the organization began breeding them under human care. Through the process, the pavilion has reared larvae from the resulting eggs produced by the females. The ultimate vision is to rear those larvae to adulthood and continue the cycle, with a long-term goal to rear the young past their vulnerable early stages and release larger individuals. This will help create or restore new populations in the Colorado wild.
Surprisingly, not a whole lot is known about the life cycle of lightning bugs. The Butterfly Pavilion hopes to learn more about this subject through its current program, which will enable them to become a leader in invertebrate husbandry.