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.
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.