Nature

Fireflies Glow Bright and Enchanting in the Texas Hill Country

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The species of firefly found in Texas is called Photinus pyralis, and it’s described as a narrow bug, approximately half an inch in length. However, no matter the name or the description, they light up a Texas Hill Country night like nothing else, and it’s a beautiful sight to see. According to a report by the Austin American-Statesman, this year those little orbs of light will be plentiful owing to the amount of rain we’ve had over the course of the spring.

Wizzie Brown with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service explained, “Fireflies need a wet spring to lay eggs, which in turn need moisture while they grow underground for nearly a year.” The blog report was first published in 2016 when, once again, parts of central Texas were experiencing heavy spring rains. This year, being a repeat of that pattern, the report was updated to reflect that information. It further explained that this is why you so rarely see fireflies when Texas is going through a drought.

According to experts in the field, the firefly’s body consists of “…a small, black head and an orange thorax. The head is dwarfed by a pair of large, black eyes well suited for night vision. The rear two-thirds is an abdomen covered by a pair of black forewings lined with yellowish-brown. The most significant feature of the abdomen is a yellow, luminescent organ that covers most of its bottom. Texas fireflies emit a yellow flash from this organ.” It’s believed that fireflies flash their lights specifically to attract mates. Though both sexes of the Texas fireflies emit a flash, only the males are capable of flying.

Fireflies Glow Bright and Enchanting in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Wikimedia

There have been concerns from some that the population of the firefly worldwide is in decline due to the widespread use of pesticides and drought. Advocates for the species take particular offense to the spraying of mosquitoes (which, in turn, affects the Photinus pyralis). If you’re interested in learning more about this insect, the type that exists throughout Texas and the Hill Country, and how to preserve or protect its habitat, you can visit firefly.org at the link available here for more information.