Why Are There Absolutely No Fireflies Lighting Up the Night Skies in Boise?
Over the last few days, we've been grossed out by some of Boise's creepy bugs like crane flies and cicadas. While both of them are harmless, they're still icky! We get plenty of those, but no pretty fireflies. What gives?!
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 where you'd poke holes in a jar and chasing lighting bugs with a butterfly net. You'd gently place then 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 (please see the triple digit temperatures) 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 the 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. 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.
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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.
In 2021, the closet sighting to us was in south of Provo, UT. There two reports from the same date in late May where the the observers saw more than 25 fireflies during their watch.