Good Question: Why aren't there fireflies in Utah?

Firefly photographed in Utah. Photo credit: BJ Nicholls

(KUTV) In other parts of the country, summertime means fireflies gently dotting the evening sky with their illuminated rear ends.

But not in Utah.

It’s an observation that prompted 2News viewer Michelle from South Salt Lake to wonder, why don't we have the glowing bugs here?

For the answer, I turned to the Utah Museum of Natural History and entomologist Christy Bills.

"We do have fireflies here … throughout the whole state," she says.

In fact, Bills has an insect mounting case full of dozens of fireflies that were all collected in Utah just this summer.

Bills says she educates folks all the time who have been in Utah for several years and have never seen the insects who are shocked to learn they live in the Beehive State.

"They mostly are only adults, where people would be most likely to see them, from late-May until early-July,” she said. “They're in wet marshy areas where people are unlikely to recreate and they don't start flashing until about 10 o’clock at night."

Because Utah is so dry, fireflies aren't as noticeable as they are in the humid Midwest.

For the past four summers, the Utah Museum of Natural History has teamed with scientists at BYU to administer the Firefly Citizen Science Project. They wait for tips from people who spot fireflies in the wild and then the scientists head out to collect samples of the flying beetles.

If you spot one, they want to hear from you.

“We’ve gotten hundreds of data reports from people around the state - from Moab to Logan,” Bills says.

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