Glow worms and fireflies worldwide

This listing is derived only from reports that have been sent to us, and is therefore not in any way standardised or checked. But we hope it will be useful as a guide to where glow worms and fireflies can be seen worldwide. Old records may also be sent.

This listing does not replace any other surveys or national databases. Please make your reports to them principally, where they exist.

If you send reports in, please try to give enough information so that others can find the location again, such as a map reference using the official government maps, and give a date or at least a year when the observations were made. However, we do not want to build up a very detailed database – a single observation per year is all that is needed. 

Austria
    Bisamberg (10 km NE of Vienna): 2 or 3 glow worms in garden, June 2001. (Mykola). Also one seen June 2003.
    Piesting (lower Austria): many fireflies reported 1990s. (Mykola)


Belgium

   I thought I'd let you know of a very large number of fireflies I've just seen in the Forêt de Soignes, an extensive
area of woodland to the south of Brussels, largely composed of beech trees.
    Sightings were on 23rd and 25th June 2001, at about 11:15pm (a little over an hour after sunset) on both occasions. Clear skies, still air, warm (about 18° C).
    First sighting was the more spectacular – there must have been in excess of 100, perhaps many more than that, both flying and on the ground, over quite a large area of the forest (both in areas of open scrubland and amongst the trees).
    On the second sighting, there seemed to be fewer, but still very numerous. And this time tended to be confined to clearings or open scrubland. This is the first time I've ever seen fireflies, and so I do not know which species they are. What I can tell you is that:
a) at least as many of the glowing insects were flying as on the ground. I presume that the fliers were male?
b) what appeared to be larvae seemed to be whitish in colour, or at least lighter than the adults, and the glowing seemed to come from distinct points on the rear (I counted four such points of light on one larva). They measured about 10–12 mm in length.
c) there were also adults on the ground, some congregated in groups of two or three (surrounding a female? I couldn't tell). They were brown in colour. Again, about 10-12 mm in length.
d) there seemed to be no difference in intensity or duration of the luminescence when comparing the adults (both the flying ones and those on the ground) and the larvae. (duration of glow was at least 15 secs, possibly more).’ (Paul Wheeler)

Raphaël de Cock comments on this report:

I know about the population in the Zonien Woud (Forêt de Soignes). It is the study population for my PhD on glow-worms.

The species is Lamprohiza splendidula or Kleine glimworm (little glow-worm) in Dutch. The whitish "larvae" are the females! The larvae look similar but are brown.
I know they occur in Groenendaal and Bosvoorde. I did not see them in Tervuren and Rood Klooster. By the way: in Zonien also occurs the common glow-worm (Lampyris noctiluca) and the little glow-worm (Phosphaenus hemipterus; kortschildglimworm in Dutch)


Germany
    Park overlooking Offenbach, July 1987. Many fireflies in thickets, late twilight (Robin Scagell).

France
    Bagnères de Bigorre, Hautes Pyrénées, 1970. 3 glow worms in garden of headquarters of Observatoire du Pic du Midi, by stream (Robin Scagell).
    ‘We have just returned from a holiday in France at Camoel, Morbihan (Brittany), staying at a gite.  We saw one or two glow worms on a number of evenings, one on grass, the other under a grating for water drainage. We mentioned it to the owner of the gite and she said that they were very rare.’ – Wilf Davies, July 2001

‘Thought you might like some info on glow-worms I spotted in France on 24 June this year [2003]. We share a French property just a short distance from the town of Trun in Calvados and I was taking an evening stroll along a quiet country lane with just a few remote farms littered here and there. Being quite dark by the time I was returning almost the whole hedgerow along this road was lit up by glow-worms. The sight was quite breathtaking. I stopped to count and gave up at 350. I recall seing glow-worms in my youth during the 1950s – it was my father’s joy to tell us that the glow-worms were back in the garden and summer was at last here.’ –  Ken Rimell

‘We moved into our present house in La Ferte Alais, some 40 km south of Paris, earlier this year [2004]. Two nights ago, sitting on the balcony, I was surprised to see a tiny green light in the middle of the lawn. It was, of course, a glow worm, the first time I had ever seen one. The garden is within a built up area covered by street lighting, but shaded by five large trees which means the lawn is of poor quality so I don't cut it too close. The glow worm was against the side of a stone slab which forms an inspection cover for our house drains. I watched it for a while again last night, the green light varied in intensity in cycles lasting several minutes.’ – Pete Harlow

The intensity changes are probably due to her moving her tail to improve visibility. Or, as Chuck Berry puts it in ‘Roll Over Beethoven’:

You know she wiggles like a glow worm
Dance like a spinnin' top


Tobago
    Fireflies in trees, Nov 2000 (Sally Trickett)

Grand Bahama
   Glow worm seen at Deep Water Quay, April 1997. None of the locals could recall seeing one though there are plenty of fireflies. John Farmer

USA
    ‘Have seen 5 of these little critters [glow worms] on our front porch located in the mountains east of Albuquerque, NM, USA.’ – Mort,     June 2001

‘13 July 2001 in Tucson, AZ (USA) in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, in my friends’ back yard, immobile on some rocks, we saw 4 glow worms.  I did not notice any legs, so if present the legs must have been tiny.  The worms were about 1 cm long, and the terminal millimeter or two glowed green.  Curiously, after we looked at them closely, with a
flashlight, they all turned off their glow.  This was a minute or two after we looked closely at them, and they all shut off either at the same time or very close to it.’

I had never seen a glow worm before and until we looked closely we weren’t sure what we were looking at that was glowing green in the night.  Are there any reports of glow worms in the Sonora desert area or the Southwestern United States, which is a very different climate from the UK, or was this a different species?  I noticed someone posted a sighting on your website from
Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA), which is not too different a climate...’
 --  Stephen Cohen, July 2001

Can anyone help by suggesting what Stephen saw? Maybe the following press release from New Mexico State University is relevant (copied from http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/news/1998/100298_GLOWWORM.html):
 

Glowworms Sighted in Southern New Mexico

       Date:
              October 02, 1998
       Contact:
              Carol Sutherland, (505) 646-3207, 
              Jenifer Schlotfeldt, (505) 646-1072,

       Las Cruces -- People who have noticed eerie, blue-green lights the size of pinpoints in the
       grass at night may have witnessed a rare sighting of New Mexico glowworms, said an
       entomologist with New Mexico State University.

       The glowworms have mainly been sighted in Las Cruces, Alamogordo and Lincoln from
       August through October.

       "Glowworms are insects -- a very unusual group of beetles that are native to this area," said
       Carol Sutherland with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "They're luminescent. They
       produce light biologically."

       Electric light bulbs produce almost 90 percent heat and 10 percent light when they are lit, she
       said. But luminescent insects like glowworms produce almost no heat and nearly 100 percent
       light. Their bodies produce luciferin, a substance that combines with an enzyme plus oxygen to
       produce the light.

       A healthy, active glowworm can glow during the day, but its light is only visible in the dark,
       Sutherland explained. The beetles seem to be most active at night, while they hide in grass,
       mulches and leaf litter and under logs and dead bark during the day.

       The adult female glowworm is tan, wingless, flat and elongated. During the day, it can easily
       be mistaken for a dried fir needle or grass clipping. Two specimens collected in Alamogordo
       were about five-eighths of an inch long, but some of the larger species can exceed an inch in
       length as adults. Male glowworms are small, winged beetles.

       "For all of their interesting features and behavior, very little is known about these odd little
       beetles," Sutherland said. Glowworms are part of the few native insects to the area that light
       up. Entomologists like Sutherland have been trying to collect the insects for their records.

       To help, amateur collectors should look at night in grassy or weedy areas. Once glowworms
       have been spotted, collectors just have to pick them up, Sutherland said.

       "Glowworms are too tiny to bite humans and they are harmless to handle," she added.

       Live specimens are preferred. Once caught, the insects should be put in a small container with
       a piece of paper towel that has a drop of water on it. If dead specimens are collected, they
       should be placed in a small container of rubbing alcohol.

       Collected glowworms can be sent to Sutherland at the Extension Plant Sciences Department,
       Box 30003, MSC 3AE, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8003, or delivered to room 130 Gerald
       Thomas Hall on the NMSU campus.

‘On May 17th 2001 I had an opportunity to find a glow worm at the top of the Grand Canyon at Havasupai, Arizona. At the top of the canyon on May 17th it was very quiet with no other people around except the party of (4) that I was with. This is a remote area where people arrange to hike down into the Grand Canyon – an awesome sight. We arrived in the evening and sat out in our camping chairs to view the awesome sight – absolutely quiet!
All of a sudden I spotted a glow on the pavement (the paved area is directly below a sheer wall that has many caves). I thought it might be a reflective glass. Upon looking closer, it began to move. At this point we took out our flashlight and observed it more closely under the light and thought it looked much like a small centipede. We did not know what it was and had
never seen anything quite like it.

I began to walk a great distance up and down the side of the canyon top to see if I could see more of these unique creatures but this was the only one.

Is it rare to see these in Arizona? All the information on websites about glow worms state they are sighted in Australia and the UK. I also thought it odd that it was the only one around.’ – Trish Martin


John Moore, of Paradise Valley, AZ, reports seeing a glowing larva at Maricopa, 1 mile NW of  Tatum and Lincoln, in May 1991. He comments: ‘Sonoran Desert. Elevation 1700 feet MSL. Rocky steep mountain slope. Glow was extremely bright blue – equivalent in intensity to a bright LED,  but from a very small area on the tip of the larva.’
Steve Rutherford of Memphis, TN, reports seeing 50-100 glow worms on islands in the middle of the Tennessee River at mile marker 215, just where the states of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama meet, on 6 October 2002.  They were on a gravel beach at low water.

‘It's not much, but I have a few photos of a local (Oregon, USA) species of glowworm at:

http://www.exchangenet.net/thormodsen/wildlife.htm

I’m very curious about these creatures, as not a whole lot seems to be known about them.  Since they have no
commercial importance the entymology dept. at the local university (Oregon State University) hasn't really researched them much.  But they are fun to find and to point out to my young daughter if nothing else. – Arne’


Innocent Walk, Shasta, Jones Valley, CA, 2 female glow worms seen 11 pm, 22 June 2004 – Dann Mann


Long Island, NY  ‘I just wanted to let you know I found a glow worm on the East End of Long Island, New York! I've never even seen one of these, this is so cool! It had a string of polka dot glow in the dark spots on both sides of its body. It seemed with my rough review of them, that this time of year is unusual for them to glow? I'll keep looking to see if I spot it again. I live in Eastport, NY, which is just south of Riverhead on Long Island. The lawn is manicured regularly, but across the small highway down the road is a railroad (just a note cuz I read sometimes they're found under railroad ties). It was really neat to see, I've never known of them, just fireflies! ’ – Dianne, November 2005.

Finland
I live in southern Finland 60 km northwest of Helsinki, on a peninsula called Jokikunta in Vihti. I just saw three glow worms in my garden. I saw some as a kid 25 years ago, but this is the first time since. They were at the same spot as well, on a cliff. I inspected one of the bugs closer and found it to be a male.

Our house is near some abandoned fields, which is from what I've heard  a typical location to find glow worms. Its also near our toilet where we've used chalk a lot. My family and I haven't actually touched the place for almost a decade
until recently when I moved here with my girlfriend. When I last saw  the glow worms in the seventies, one of them laid eggs on a rock. They  glowed faintly for several days. I remember this clearly because I  thought it was glow worm-poop....

The nature here is special, with lots of more or less unattended forest areas. Even bears have been reported nearby. Our lot is bordering on forest or old cattle fields on three sides. Last night was remarkably dark (due to the dense forest and the weather) although it’s just a week after midsummer [2003].’ – Ove.



Czech Republic
‘We were staying in Krivoklat, a village some 60km west of Prague, on the Beroun river. The house was only approximately 10 metres from the river, but the patio was quite high up – say 10m again from the surface of the river. The house was built quite hard up against the valley wall, which was quite densely wooded. The first night we saw them, I had been worried that my eyes were starting to have problems, as I kept seeing lights out of the corner of my eye, coming from the rock-face! Then, my girlfriend, who is Czech, pointed out one flying slightly above us. At that point, many flying lights appeared – possibly up to 20 or 30. Only a few were stationary, and these were often ones which had been flying and then landed on a leaf, or the rock-face. They cast a very strong green glow, enough to clearly illuminate any surface they came near for about a two or three centimetre radius. They rarely flashed, but glowed uniformly. On one evening, they all suddenly went out at the same time, though I could not identify a stimulus. They stayed off for about five minutes, then came back. At one point, a large group all floated upwards at the same time. We only saw one glowworm the whole time we were there.

I've described the general lay of the land, but other information that may be interesting to you is that the weather conditions were warm (20 degrees C and higher), and generally dry. There was a storm one night, and we hadn't seen any fireflies prior to the lightning commencing. The dates we observed them were between 12th and 16th of June, 2003, between 10pm and about midnight (the fireflies didn't stop, we did!).’ – Jeremy Wickens


Portugal

‘I would like to report the sighting of a glow worm in my garden in Braga (northern Portugal) tonight.’ -- Anabela, 16 June 2004

‘I saw on 30 April 2005, 3 female glow worms, in a garden in the darker areas, under a bush and on the herbs, in Lisbon. The weather conditions were mild around 18 degrees celsius at 22.00 pm. Breezy conditions. A few days later ( 5 May) saw there more 2 females.

 Last weekend ( 6-8 May) I went to a place near Ericeira, about 70 km from Lisbon and counted at least more than 100 fireflies ( Luciola lusitanica) in a single night, for two hours.Even after midnight some were flying around. The temperature at night dropped to about 15-18º and by day went up to 25-28º Celsius. Breezy conditions at night.

I saw also some glow-worm ( L. noctiluca) larvae, in the last stages there, with black colour ( I saw them with a torch light) and the same size of an adult. One stayed near the house until the late hours of the night, glowing sometimes for a while and then switching off the light for a while. That occured near some native herbs, on the leaf litter. The fireflies had a quite obvious preference to fly near the edge of the paths, with some bushes growing on both sides of the path.
–  Gonçalo Appleton, May 2005

Read Gonçalo’s detailed report of searches for fireflies in Portugal for 2006 here.
Spain
‘I have recently returned from holiday to Spain with my family and while there we noticed 3 separate glow worms 'staying' by our villa with us.We were staying at a villa in the resort of Javea, approx. 1hr drive north of Alicante.’ – Danny
Romania
‘I’ve found a glow worm at a lake near the place I live. My town is called Deva and it’s in west Romania (in Transylvania).’ -- Carmen, 7 July 2004