Why Are There Absolutely No Fireflies Lighting Up the Night Skies in Boise?
If you grew up on the East Coast and eventually worked your way out West, this is probably a question you've asked yourself before.
You fondly remember those nights from your childhood when you'd poke holes in a jar and chase lightning bugs with a butterfly net. You'd gently place them in the jar and enjoy your little lantern before letting them go. It's an experience that you don't get to share with your kids who were born in Idaho.
That's because Idaho's climate isn't a happy home for fireflies. According to Firefly.org, they love warm, humid climates. We've definitely got one of those going for us but the other one? Not so much. How many times have we said, "well, at least it's a dry heat?" It's not humid here. When we do have humidity, it's usually humid in the mornings when fireflies tend not to be active.
If you look at the 2021 Firefly observation map, there really aren't many sightings west of Kansas. Just a handful in Denver, New Mexico, Utah and Montana.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, we do get some "fireflies" in the west but they're different than the species back east. In our neck of the woods, the female fireflies are the ones that light up and they don't do it while in flight. You've got to have a really keen eye to see their dull, dull glow while they're on the ground.
That said, seeing fireflies in the Idaho-Utah area isn't totally out of the question! The Massachusetts Audubon Society runs a "Firefly Watch Community Science Project" every year that tracks firefly sightings all over the country. They only track nighttime, flashing fireflies. In June 2020, there was a sighting of 1-5 fireflies near Downey, ID right between Pocatello and Preston.
It's anyone's guess if they'll show up there again one day. We know the odds aren't good, but how special would it be to see fireflies with the kids during a family vacation? If you want to vacation in Downey, we know just the place! Check out these cool covered wagons at Downata Hot Springs!