Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Fireflies on the Prairie

I grew up in a place that didn’t have fireflies that lit up at night, but I have loved them as long as I can remember.  I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, when I saw a firefly a few nights after I moved to Raleigh!  Finally, I lived in a place that has them and seeing them will no longer be a lovely benefit of visiting my relatives in the Midwest, but something I can indulge in every summer.  I rarely see hoards of them anywhere, just a few little flashes here and there, but then I did a firefly outreach program at work on Saturday evening.  There were hundreds out!  They were flying over the prairie, lighting up little patches of grass every few seconds and it was absolutely magical.  So, I packed up my camera and went back the next evening to try to get a shot that captured the wonder of that spectacle.  It was raining and my camera has some serious grain issues when I try to photograph things in low light, so I never did get the crisp photo I had hoped to get.  This was the best I could manage:



Still, every one of those yellow-green lights is a firefly, and those represent about a third of the fireflies flying over that one patch of prairie.  That patch was about 1/10th of the total area I could see, so multiply what you see here by about 30 in your mind for the full effect!  It was amazing.  One of the best nature moments of my life, truly and utterly beautiful.

In other news, I am seriously upgrading my camera gear!  As of tomorrow, I will have two new camera bodies (a Nikon AND a Canon this time) and a new lens (Canon MP-E 65!!!), so prepare to be inundated by bug photos as I play around with my new toys over the next few weeks.  Maybe I’ll even try the firefly photo again with the new gear and see if I can improve on the photo above!


Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

23 thoughts on “Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Fireflies on the Prairie

    • Hmmm… Might need to try that out sometime! However, because I’ve been in California for the past few weeks, I’m probably going to have to wait until next year to try again as they’re largely gone here already. Sigh… Wish they stuck around longer!

  1. Just love lighting bugs (aka fireflies, or is there a difference?) My backyard (SE PA) is surrounded by trees; when I take the dogs out at night I just stand there and watch all the twinkling lights.

    • How lucky that you live close to woods and get to see so many fireflies! And lightning bugs and fireflies are the same insects, but what you call them depends on where you’re from. Have you seen the great linguistics maps that have been floating around the internet recently? If you go here:


      and choose question #65, you’ll be able to see which parts of the US use which word to describe insets with light-up butts. I come from the land of interchangeability myself, but I called them lightning bugs when I was a kid because both of my parents did. It has only been in the last few years that I’ve adopted firefly instead, and it’s only because I like the shorter word.

    • Thanks! Glad you like it. And I’m sorry you don’t have more fireflies in your area. It’s really magical to see so many! I feel very lucky to live in a place that has so many of them now.

  2. I love how you can’t stick to being wordless – I’m so glad it’s not just me!

    I love the fireflies, but I sure don’t see many like how when I was a kid (many, many years ago).


    • Yeah, wordless doesn’t work for me. I can’t bring myself to just put up a photo of something cool with no explanation. I compromise by trying my very best to keep it under 200 words. :)

      There are several scientists who think that there are far fewer fireflies now than there were a few decades ago and several projects that are hoping to document firefly populations in an effort to figure out WHY there are fewer now. I hope it works!

    • Aw, thanks! I really appreciate it. And yes, photographing fireflies is a beast of a challenge! My camera really wasn’t up to it, but I got a better camera just before I left for my recent trip to California. It’s going to be a much better camera for photographing fireflies. :)

      Love all your heron photos! What magnificent birds. And the photo of the dragonfly on the heron’s beak… Wow! That’s spectacular!

      • Youre welcome, well-deserved fun little award, and thanks for the kind words about the herons. I thought you’d appreciate the one with the dragonfly on his beak. In case you didn’t see the full heron-dragonfly series: http://wp.me/p3sJPz-3A Also, for the fireflies, did you see the last page of the latest Audubon print mag? If not, check it out.

  3. I grew up with fireflies in North Georgia and really miss them. When we moved to North Florida I had hoped to have them here, too, but was greatly disappointed to find nary a one!

    • Sorry that you moved away from your fireflies! I am thrilled to finally live in a place that has them as they’ve always been a special treat when I’ve gone to visit my family in the midwest and now I get to see them often. I would imagine it’s better to move toward them than away though… Hope you have a chance to visit the fireflies sometime!

  4. Lucky you! I’ve only seen fireflies a couple of times in my life – first time was in the marshes on an overnight challenge with Guides/Scouts – amazing thing to come across unexpectedly!

  5. I used to catch fireflies when i was a kid… always tried hard to run after one single bug when i see one. But come early september at the farm where i stay… they would come out, hundreds. I don’t catch them anymore. I just lie in the comfort of my hammock and admire their sparkling beauty… in awe.

  6. I have always loved fireflies! When I was younger they were the coolest thing! Even when I lived in Michigan I would always catch 10 to 15, but I would never keep them. Sadly, I moved away though. I wish I could see them to day! Hope you enjoy them!

Have something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s