Firefly Lifecycle Project

Butterfly Pavilion aims to understand the husbandry and rearing of fireflies in preparation for restoration of wild populations of fireflies suffering from habitat loss in Colorado.

Did you know that we have fireflies that light up the night in Colorado? Not many people do! 

Populations of these bioluminescent beetles are scattered in localized pockets of wetlands around Colorado. In these wetlands, fireflies act as predators of other invertebrates like snails and earthworms, and as prey for birds, reptiles, and amphibians. With wetlands being lost to development and water and light pollution, it is important that we study these populations and how to preserve our native wetland habitats. Since 2019, Butterfly Pavilion researchers have collected a small number of wild adult fireflies each summer. Our researchers then rear the offspring of these adults, studying how different environmental cues affect their development in hopes of successfully raising them to adulthood. Breeding fireflies under human care in the US has only been intermittently accomplished in academic settings.  

Butterfly Pavilion has studied how to breed and raise these animals under human care to develop industry best practices, determine their potential for display in outdoor zoo exhibits and gain insight to inform future efforts to reintroduce native firefly species into the wild. 

Become a community scientist and help Butterfly Pavilion track firefly populations around Colorado!

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