Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Some students have noticed and wondered why there were so many fireflies this year. To answer their questions, the Gazette went to Julie Hagelin, Assistant Professor of Biology who conducts research on animal behavior, and she referred us to Sara Lewis, a Professor of Biology at Tufts University who studies fireflies.
Professor Lewis explained that fireflies spend between one to two years underground as larvae, feeding mainly on earthworms. “A major source of larval mortality would be drought occurring in the fall or spring, so adult firefly populations may have benefited from the wet spring and summer we had this past year,” she wrote in an e-mail. So, the rainy weather of earlier this year is a likely factor in the firefly population boom that was witnessed and appreciated all over Swarthmore’s campus.
Got other phosphorescing/burning questions? Ask The Gazette: dailygazette [at] swarthmore [dot] edu