I'll admit that I know very little about you. However, I'm guessing that in your childhood, like mine and so many others, plenty of time was spent during the summer nights catching fireflies, or as I grew up calling them, lightning bugs.

As to calling them fireflies or lightning bugs, a poll at YouGov determined that 60% of people living in the western United States prefer the term firefly over the 25% that say lightning bug.

In our part of the country, it's different:

Those living in the Midwest are the most likely to refer to these flickering fliers as “lighting bugs.” Nearly three in five Midwesterners (59%) call them this, while one-third (33%) say they are fireflies. Midwesterners that live on the Western side of the region (37%) are slightly more likely than those on the Eastern side of the region (30%) to refer to them as fireflies, though majorities in both parts of the region tend to say lightning bugs (55% and 62% respectively).

A firefly perched on a blade of grass, its abdomen lit in bright yellow light.
It doesn't matter, they won't come when you call them. (Getty Images)

Whatever You Prefer Calling Them, The Population Of Fireflies/Lightning Bugs Is Shrinking Nearly Everywhere In The Country

I say nearly everywhere in the country because there's one state that doesn't have fireflies/lightning bugs, and that state is Hawaii. The other 49 states all have lightning bugs/fireflies, and they're not all the same.


In North America, there are more than 170 species of Lampyridae, or light-emitting beetles, and there are more than 2,000 types worldwide. And they've been around for millions of years.

In Illinois, experts think that we have between 27 to 32 different species of lightning bugs/fireflies, but most of the ones we have here in Illinois look like this:

Getty Images
When I was a kid, I thought they had an eye on the back of their heads. (Getty Images)

So, Why Are There Less Fireflies/Lightning Bugs Now, And How Serious Is This?

One of the problems with figuring this out is the fact that despite these glowing bugs being a big part of summer outdoor nightlife, there just haven't been very many studies of them, which is something researchers across the country are trying to change.

Based upon what is known about these insects currently, the reasons most researchers think that we're seeing less of them is two-fold: Habitat loss to development, and light pollution.

Quiz: Do you know your state insect?

Stacker has used a variety of sources to compile a list of the official state insect(s) of each U.S. state, as well as their unique characteristics. Read on to see if you can guess which insect(s) represent your state. 

Plant Some Of These In Your Garden to Keep Mosquitoes Away

As we previously told you, mosquitoes are the most dangerous creatures on earth. If you want to keep them away from you're yard, these plants can help!

More From WROK 1440 AM / 96.1 FM