Last updated on April 2nd, 2021 at 08:11 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.
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 the plan for the 2021 firefly season:
This year, the dates are March 19 to April 4 at Blue Spring. The park will admit only 60 cars a night, so it is suggested you arrive early — 5:30 or 6 p.m. because this is very popular. When you pay your admission, say you are staying for the fireflies and you will be given a pass. This year the tour is self-guided.
Best viewing is along the boardwalk between the Thursby House and the spring boil.
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.”
Best chances to gain entrance are weeknights.
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
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.
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.
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