Throughout forests, grassy fields, farms, gardens, orchards and parks, fireflies have been able to adapt to life in a wide variety of habitats. Fireflies can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Thriving in moist areas, fireflies are most plentiful, and like to live near rivers, streams, ponds, marshes and swamps and prefer mild temperatures during the summer season in which they are active and seeking a mate. Most fireflies can be found east of the Rocky Mountains, from New York to Kansas and Georgia to Texas, and throughout most of the states in between. Florida has the largest firefly population for the most months out of the year because the climate is tropical almost all year long. However, the greatest number and variety of fireflies in the world live in the tropical climates of Central and South America and in tropical parts of Asia.
Scientists however, are concerned that other firefly species are dramatically declining not just in the United States but all over the world. Pesticides, habitat loss, big city lights and dry weather are only some key factors in firefly decline. Turpin explains that while numbers may be declining throughout the world, fireflies still seem plentiful in central Indiana. He does imply that while entomologists do study fireflies, they do not study them very frequently, thus making it difficult to comment on population numbers for certain because no one is currently counting in the backyards of families living in Indiana.
While there may be no scientific collection of firefly numbers in Indiana, the Boston Museum of Science has teamed up with researchers from several different universities in hopes of tracking these magical, glowing creatures simply by counting them. The project is called "Firefly Watch," and is considered to be an interesting, unique science project for citizens that can be conducted in their very own backyards. Since the inception of Firefly Watch in May 2008, more than 5,500 people from 42 states throughout New England, in the Midwest down into the South and even Canada, Costa Rica, Ghana and India have been able to count and track firefly data collected in their own backyards via the Firefly Watch database. The data citizens collect is helping to determine if in fact there is a decline in firefly population, and if so, where is it happening and what may be causing it. The Boston Museum of Science is committed to operating the Firefly Watch Program and the database for at least 10 years in hopes of learning more about the geographic distribution, numbers of firefly populations and their activities during the summer season. To learn more about Firefly Watch and how you can become involved, please click on this link. Firefly Watch
If you are interested in collecting fireflies for research and getting paid for it, there are companies that will pay for your collection. The Sigma Chemical Company in St. Louis, Missouri, is the largest known buyer of fireflies. They are open for purchasing fireflies collected by the public and they provide fireflies throughout the world for conducting research in a wide variety of scientific fields.