Last updated on January 18th, 2021 at 09:35 am

Each year, Blue Spring State Park, home to manatees in the winter and a favorite place for a swim in clear, bracing spring water in the summer, allows visitors to stay one hour after closing during “firefly season.”

Really? When I first read this, I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. As a South Florida resident, am I alone in my ignorance of fireflies in Florida? But I did a quick Google search, and, indeed, Central Florida is awash with fireflies at dusk near bodies of water in the late March and early April.

There is a firefly season and Blue Spring, located 35 miles north of Orlando in Orange City, is firefly central.

In 2019, “firefly season” began in mid March and continued through March 31. The dates vary a bit each year, although they are generally in that time range. (Call the park for schedule: 386-775-3663.)

To allow visitors to enjoy this phenomenon, Blue Spring State Park lets visitors stay after the traditional closing time to see Florida fireflies in action:  “Mother Nature’s light show.”

Here’s how it works:

You must must arrive at Blue Spring State Park before sundown to gain admission. Bring a flashlight to safely navigate the paths and boardwalks after dark while spotting fireflies. Best viewing is along the boardwalk between the Thursby House and the Spring Boil. Insect repellent for mosquitoes may be needed.

One park staff member describes the firefly scene as “pretty spectacular …..It’s like a bunch of Christmas lights thrown out there into the woods.”

What makes fireflies light up?

First, fireflies are not flies; they are beetles. Fireflies have an organ in their abdomen that produce a chemical that reacts to oxygen to produce light; the process is called bioluminescence. The light they produce does not produce warmth. One reason fireflies glow is to attract mates.

Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park, 2100 West French Ave., Orange City, FL 32763. Phone: 386-775-3663. Open from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. Day use admission $6 per vehicle, $2 for pedestrians, bicycles.

Directions:

Take Interstate 4 to exit 114 (State Road 472) and follow the signs to U.S. 17/92. Go a little more than two miles south on 17/92 to the traffic light at French Ave. Turn right and go two miles through a neighborhood of modest homes to Blue Spring State Park.

Places near Blue Spring State Park 

Vsiting Blue Spring State Park

Cabins at Blue Spring and three other Central Florida parks

Wekiva River Basin inviting to paddlers, campers

Hontoon Island: Camping, cabins, great kayak trip in wild setting

5 Comments

  1. When I was a child, they were so thick it seemed a nightly occurrence. I remember watching them from my bedroom window until I would fall asleep. We would ride horses in the evening through swarms of them down in the orange groves. We would see who could trap the most in a jar. (yes, they were released alive and flashing).

    50+ years later, I wondered why I never see them anymore. I was digging around for an answer and found this article. Thank you.

  2. Brenda Brookshire

    Never seen blue fireflies. Green or Yellow…but now I want to find these! This time last year I experienced a magical twinkling forest at Ft. Clinch. I am setting out next weekend to try to find this again, on the Georgia Golden Isles. Maybe too soon, since it’s further North. It was so beautiful, like a dream.

  3. Bob Stokes
    Just wanted to let everyone know that the blue lighting bugs are gone , They were there for about a week an 1/2 . I would like to know if anyone has ever seen them in fl before?

    • Yes!, I have seen blue fireflies. In our back yard last year in North Port,Fl. (Sarasota County). I thought I was seeing things! ~ the first few blue flashes really surprised me. There is a preserve behind our house so it’s dark out late at night.I watched from our screened in lanai. It was magical and hope I get to see it again.

    • From what I was told about the fireflies at Blue Spring State Park, they were present for about three weeks. Not sure if that will be true for yours. But thanks you for sharing.