What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

firefly flashing
June 21, 2011 10:57 pm
Dear Bugman,
Just as a previous reader was astounded a few weeks ago (see your June 14th post re firefly flashing), I witnessed something tonight that I have never seen before in my short 32 years of observing lightning bugs, which are very common here in northern Illinois during the summer months.  These lightning bugs were flashing more rapidly than I have ever seen lightning bugs flash before.  I was able to concentrate on a few individuals close on the fence post, and their flashes were extremely fast, not like the normal relaxed on and off glow I’ve always known them to have.  These bugs were flashing so rapidly it reminded me of a strobe light.  And there were so many in the field flashing like this that it looked literally like twinkling Christmas lights.  I just stood there staring because I really had never seen such a sight.  Anyway, sorry for rambling, but I thought it interesting that I would be privy to seeing this after just having read a post on the same subject on your sit
e.  I am a big fan of the site.  Keep up your great work!!
Sincerely,
Amy Berogan, Rockford, IL
Signature: Amy Berogan

Dear Amy,
Thanks for your comment.  While in Ohio in June, Daniel also had the opportunity to witness one single rapid flasher that also seemed bent on flying quickly as it covered a great deal of space in a short period of time.  He was used to seeing Fireflies hovering about in the same area while flashing slowly.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Illinois

13 Responses to Firefly Flashing

  1. Landon says:

    I have just witnessed this same thing in my kitchen. I was walking in the dark through my house and noticed a fast blinking light slowly moving across my ceiling. I have never witnessed this before in south Georgia so I had to look it up.

  2. Michelle says:

    I just saw a bug on my ceiling also flashing a bright white color . I’ve never seen anything like it before . I thought someone was messing with me it was dark in the room scared me actually . It looked like a camera flash so weird . Then i put the light on and saw the bug . I’m in Portland, Maine I also had to look this up . i didn’t catch it wish i did so i could identify it .So what kind of firefly is it is my question . From what i saw it looked mostly brown long and i dont think it could fly either . It was very bright white in color if you know what it was i’d like to know please .

  3. Mike says:

    I just let my dog out in my backyard in Skokie, Illinois, and had to call my wife out to verify that she saw the same thing. Rapidly flashing bugs — maybe every 2 seconds — and in the grass, bushes and tall trees all around. The description like twinkling Christmas lights was on the mark. And the light was almost blue-white, unlike the greenish-yellow that we were accustomed to. The on/off seemed also to be much “crisper”, not having the growing glow and decay. Are these a new species?

    • bugman says:

      Our editorial staff just returned from a trip to Eastern Ohio, and we were treated to some spectacular Firefly displays in the early evening. We did notice that later in the evening, closer to 11 PM or Midnight, that a different species of Firefly would produce a rapid blink every second or two, and it was a whiter color light.

  4. Renee says:

    Last night while in my daughter’s guest bedroom I was alarmed to see a brightly flashing light swirling all about on the ceiling. It flashed a bright white light every second or 2 for about 20 seconds (or so) while it was flying. I thought I was going crazy! I thought it looked like a firefly on steroids, but have never heard of anything like this before – but I’m visiting from California. When I turned on the light after the 2nd round of flashing, I found a broad-bodied charcoal colored bug much wider than a typical firefly. I’m glad to know that I’m not nuts! 🙂

    • bugman says:

      Every Firefly has a different flash pattern, and we have seen a rapid flash pattern in Ohio, and that particular Firefly flies later in the evening than other Fireflies.

  5. Melissa says:

    Tonight in southeast Louisiana, my husband and I spotted strobe light-like flashing in the wooded swamp behind our home. The light was white to light blue and the pattern was two fast flashes. Seemed like the light would move fast from one spot to the next and could reach high altitude. Neither of us have ever seen this phenomenon before . . .so astounding.

  6. Lea says:

    I was camping this weekend in upstate NY and witnessed a strange show by lightning bugs. They were flashing very quickly like a stobe light about 4 flashes at a time. The light wasn’t your typical dim, yellow color. It was a bright blue/white light. For a few minutes, I though we may have been being invaded by aliens! I cannot figure out what kind of fireflies these were. Please help!!! Thank you!!!

  7. Steve says:

    I just witnessed maybe 8 with a 3-4 rapid pulse and white like a cheap led. Grabbed the wife to see if my old eyes were playing tricks on me. They hovered above the trees (bout 30 ft). We have an area of our yard that gets covered in the yellowish single slow pulse. I had never seen anything like it.

    • Chris says:

      Just witnessed the same. My son came downstairs to tell me, I thought nothing of it until I saw it was bright white, like a distant plane, but this was high up in the trees. Pittsburgh, PA

  8. Joann says:

    Glad for the posts from others, I too saw them last night. The weirdest thing to see, not your normal firefly, WHITE strobe lights. I was starting to question myself if I was seeing things. Glad to know I’m not officially going crazy.

  9. Peter Scanlan says:

    I spent the night below a small falls on a creek on a farm about an hour south of Nashville Tennessee. Toward the end of dusk I saw three lights approaching me at about the speed of a bee. They were blinking non-stop, a blink or two per second. They moved past me. I turned to face a forested hill where more of the blinking bugs appeared, some in groups some singly. It was pitch dark, so I could not see their bodies, only their lights, which were white and much brighter than the fireflies that I was used to. Their number would grow and diminish. At times groups of them were synchronized in their blinking. I watched them for several hours, I was so fascinated. Whenever I turned on my headlamp and then turned it back on, there were no blinkers. Then after 20 seconds or so, they would start up again in the same numbers all over the hillside and beyond. I fell asleep at one point. When I woke about 4:00 am, they were still there blinking. It was not till dawn broke that they thinned out. The ones that remained changed their blinking pattern. They would increase their blink speed tremendously for a few seconds and then go dark. Final one blinked out in the early light. I am very curious as to what these might have been.

    • Mike says:

      My wife and I were seeing a movie at the areas Drive In theater in Northwest Indiana… And I saw a fairly quick, white/blue, blinking light flying around. I had no idea what it was. My wife didn’t see it originally, but a few minutes later she pointed it out and was astounded! This was probably some 11/11:30pm. I hope to see them again one day!

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