The dense oyamel fir forests of Central Mexico are filled with an extraordinary light show every summer (June through August). In the town of Nanacamilpa, located in the state of Tlaxcala, there’s a 200 hectare firefly sanctuary that recently has been attracting over 50,000 tourists each year.
One group, called Amigos de las Luciérnagas (Friends of the Fireflies), is worried that excessive tourism could have a negative impact on the firefly population (a newly described, endemic species called Macrolampis palaciosi). So they’ve started a national campaign to raise awareness about these fireflies’ habitat requirements and their need for protection.
While it is certainly good news that so many people want to step out into the night to see fireflies, firefly ecotourism can be a double-edged sword. One thing makes these Mexican fireflies especially vulnerable: their females are flightless (they have no wings), and so may be trampled if too many people walk through their habitat.