Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs
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Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs

Identification and Natural History of the Fireflies of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada

Title Details

Pages: 376

Illustrations: 637 color images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 03/01/2017

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4872-8

List Price: $34.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Wormsloe Foundation Nature Books

Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs

Identification and Natural History of the Fireflies of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada

Get better acquainted with the performers of your own backyard “light show”

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs is the first-ever comprehensive firefly guide for eastern and central North America. It is written for all those who want to know more about the amazing world of lightning bugs and learn the secrets hidden in the flash patterns of the 75+ species found in the eastern and central United States and Canada. As an independent researcher working with numerous university teams, naturalist Lynn Frierson Faust, “The Lightning Bug Lady,” has spent decades tracking the behavior and researching the habitats of these fascinating creatures.

Based on her twenty-five years of fieldwork, this book is intended to increase understanding and appreciation of bioluminescent insects while igniting enthusiasm in a fun and informative way. Species accounts are coupled with historical backgrounds and literary epigraphs to engage and draw readers young and old into the world of these tiny sparklers. A chart documenting the flash patterns of the various species will aid in identification.

Clear photos illustrate the insects’ distinguishing physical characteristics, while habitats, seasonality, and common names are provided in easy-to-understand yet scientifically accurate language. The guide will be welcomed by everyone who wants to learn more about fireflies’ and glow-worms’ unique traits and fragile niche in the ecosystem.


Over 600 color photographs

Detailed accounts and anatomical diagrams of 75+ species, as well as aids in distinguishing between similar species

A first-of-its-kind flash-pattern chart that folds out on heavy-weight paper

Extensive scientific details written in an understandable and engaging way

Colorful common names—Twilight Bush Baby, Shadow Ghosts, Snappy Syncs, and more—for easy species identification based on flash patterns

Tips on ideal sites and times of year for firefly watching

Conservation-oriented approach

This is a true gem of a book, a celebration of fireflies in all their diversity. With her unique combination of expert knowledge, boundless enthusiasm, superb photography and above all her love of these magical creatures, Lynn Faust leads us through every aspect of their lives and emphasizes the need to enjoy, study, cherish and protect them. She has created a supremely authoritative yet wonderfully accessible guide that is sure to inspire and inform the next generation of firefly-researchers. This book will draw you into the world of fireflies and make you want to go out into the night to discover and enjoy them for yourself.

—John Tyler, Past Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, and author of The Glow-Worm

Lynn Faust's Fireflies, Glow-worms and Lightning Bugs is overflowing with contagious enthusiasm for Lampyridae and other bioluminescent insects, but you won't want to spill a drop. It is a perfect brew of natural history, anecdote and careful taxonomy, sparkling with accessible-but-authoritative text and saturated with superb photography. Fireflies, Glow-worms and Lightning Bugs promises to be a natural history classic, and is a perfect guide to the "magical world of fireflies" in eastern and central North America.

—Stephen A. Marshall, author of Flies: The Natural History and Diversity of Diptera

This is a book for all of us, from nature enthusiasts and backyard entomologists to beetle experts to theoretical biologists. The guide, as the author modestly calls it, packs a wealth of information and wit. Rigorous but simple, and fun to read. Decades worth of original field observations make Lynn Faust's book a priceless contribution to the study of a charismatic but poorly understood group of insects, nothing short of a scientific monograph. It will be extensively cited in research papers, no doubt—and leave you with a striking impression that fireflies are relevant to the entirety of human experience. Only someone of Lynn's insight and dedication can put humble bugs in a context that wide. She says this is the book she wanted when she first got interested in fireflies. What she came up with is exactly the kind of treatment we want for every group of organisms, to boost and nurture our fascination with nature, to show us how those tiny parts of our world work. I'm afraid, though, this book will remain a unique example for quite a while; people with skill, energy, and expertise matching Lynn's are few and far between.

—Vassili Belov, Contributing Editor,

Do you call them fireflies or lightning bugs? Or do you have another name for these insects that are neither bugs nor flies but bioluminescent beetles? A new book, Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs, by Lynn Frierson Faust takes an in-depth look at the biology and allure of these familiar night visitors. Faust is the first to offer a comprehensive look at species of the eastern and central United States. The book is unequivocally the best ever written on North American lightning bugs. . . . Faust’s excellent book answers a multitude of questions about these twinkling night travelers. What do they eat? The adults of most species never eat. They only mate. Can fireflies bite us or attack plants in our gardens? Easy answer to both – absolutely not. . . . If nothing else, this book will spark memories of the childhood delight you felt when you caught lightning bugs in a jar – and then let them go. It may also encourage you to turn off the front porch light unless you’re expecting visitors.

—Whit Gibbons, Aiken Standard

But if Faust’s book doesn’t make the task simple—getting down to species is not a simple job, she admits—having the Lightning Bug Lady by your side, with her graceful, wise, and witty advice, coupled with a plethora of incredible pictures (the cover photo, by David Hughes, of a Big Dipper firefly, a species found in our area, rocketing upward is itself worth the retail price of the guide), makes the job both doable and downright pleasant.

—Bruce Fellman, Naturalist's Journal

For the last twenty-six years, Lynn Faust has been working to catalog and decipher the bioluminescent Morse Code each species flickers out come spring and summer. 'Lightning bug flashes are works of art,' says Faust, a naturalist who recently penned the definitive book on the topic, Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs.

—Jason Bittel, Smithsonian

Everyone who’s seen fireflies aglow is pleased, comforted, or amazed with what they’ve seen. Who dislikes fireflies? This book will be with you outside at night, with your book light attached, while you try to identify your first flashing firefly to species.

—Randy Lauff, Canadian Field-Naturalist

About the Author/Editor

LYNN FRIERSON FAUST is an advisory consultant on firefly studies with state and national parks in Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and New York and an on-site scientific consultant with BBC Nature, the Discovery Channel, and National Geographic, among many other media outlets. She has also aided in identification and educational advisement for the Cincinnati Museum Center and published surveys of the fireflies of Mammoth Cave National Park, Congaree National Park, and the Allegheny National Forest. Faust has presented around the world on the topic of fireflies and published numerous scientific papers. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.