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Fireflies Glowing in S.C.; Conservation Needed

This map shows firefly observations. image by: Clemson University

This map shows firefly observations.
image by: Clemson University

GEORGETOWN, S.C. – Results from the 2013 firefly count are in. There’s a steady glow in many parts of the state, but conservation efforts are needed, say Clemson firefly project researchers.

The Clemson University Vanishing Firefly Project was launched by entomologist Juang-Horng “JC” Chong and biogeochemist Alex Chow. The goal of the program is to collect data over several years from different habitats across South Carolina and other states to determine the population trend of fireflies.

“It is too early to make a conclusion from one year data,” said Chow. “However, this year data showed us many areas in South Carolina still have good population of firefly. We definitely need to protect them before it is too late.”

Fireflies are fewer and harder to find in some communities along the coast lately because of urban development and changes in forestry practices.

Researchers organized a June 1 statewide firefly survey. People chose their locations and conducted a one-minute survey between 8:15 and 10:15 p.m. They reported observations using the Apple app Firefly Flash Counter or the project web page. (See map at http://firefly.clemson.edu/.)

Next year, say researchers, the project looks to add an Android smartphone app, expand the survey to others states, maybe other countries, and recruit more citizen-scientists.