Around Christmas each year, I start getting reports from astonished fans about what looks like glowing fireflies lighting up nearby trees. Just last week my neighbor in New Hampshire was thrilled to see what he thought was definitely the courtship display of blue ghost fireflies!
If you’ve followed my posts, you know that fireflies across most of the U.S. survive winter hanging out in a juvenile stage. But… these glow-worms stay underground and are typically dormant until temperatures warm up in the spring. You might also know there’s a real Winter Firefly (Ellychnia corrusca) whose adults spend winters hunkered down on tree trunks. But… these are dark fireflies whose non-luminescent adults only begin flying in the spring.
It’s mid-winter, and lightningbug mating season is still months away, so what the heck is going on??!! Wishful thinking? Mass hallucination? Nope – it’s a simple case of mistaken identity.
Outdoor laser projectors have recently become a popular addition to winter holiday decor. These projectors send out dancing points of light – when they shine up into nearby trees, it seems like the treetops are filled with flashing fireflies! Check out the video below:
So next time you start hearing rumors about winter lightningbugs, you won’t get duped – just ask your neighbors! And enjoy the Christmas “fireflies”.