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It’s firefly season at Blue Springs. Wait, what’s firefly season?

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

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.

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

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

This article is the property of and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.

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Jim Uhing

Monday 29th of March 2021

Just wanted to note that you said to bring a flashlight and bug spray. Their facebook page says no flashlights or flash photography and to refrain from bug repellent. Both deter the fireflies.

Bonnie Gross

Thursday 1st of April 2021

Thanks, Jim. That information was given to me by park staff in previous years, so this must have changed. Thanks so much for letting me know; I'll update the story.


Lee Bennett

Sunday 14th of March 2021

We live east Sarasota county. To night saw the first one in years . What a delightful site. Will look for more tomorrow.


Saturday 29th of April 2017

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.

Brenda Brookshire

Tuesday 4th of April 2017

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.

Bob Stokes

Tuesday 10th of January 2017

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?

Gloriana Hansen

Monday 22nd of May 2017

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.

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