The woods are haunted!

The last few weeks have been very productive for people willing to get out and spend some time in the dark looking for ghost fireflies!  Some individuals found the “Piedmont Ghost” on their private lands with new sites in Wake, Chatham, and Johnston Counties.  Two new sites were also found in separate parts of Falls Lake State Recreational Area.  Most exciting was the confirmation of the Piedmont Ghost in Montgomery County.  That stretched the known range of this critter 50+ miles southwest of the known Chatham County sites.  There are other records submitted that we need to follow up to confirm that may add additional range extensions.  Clearly there are many more areas outside central North Carolina that we need to search.

Kudos to the spirited bunch of ghost hunters in Raleigh City Parks.  Leading the initial effort and training of ghost hunters was John Connors.  John is an accomplished naturalist and conservation advocate, with a long career with Raleigh City Parks and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  John provided us with the first observations of the ghost fireflies in Durant Nature Preserve when he led night hikes there in the 1980’s.  Durant provided a perfect place to train park staff and others on how to look for the ghost fireflies.

Raleigh Park staff found a way to work additional hours after the parks closed to search several Raleigh City Parks for the ghost fireflies.  This year’s surveys confirmed the ghost firefly’s continued presence in Durant in addition to adding Forest Ridge and Lake Johnson Parks to the list of known sites.  I participated in a successful hunt in Clemmons Educational State Forest.  Ghost fireflies were found all along the Talking Tree Trail and some even in the heavily used picnic area.  It’s very encouraging to find these fireflies in forests that are conserved in some way as many other forests are being cut to make room for development.

Thanks to all who ventured into the dark to search for these elusive little fireflies.  As the ghosts finish up their activity in our area, the other fireflies are making their appearance.  We hope that you have been bitten by the firefly bug!  Learn more about the others in your area.  Perhaps there is another undescribed species in the mix that remains to be discovered.  In any event, fireflies certainly are bright spots in our enjoyment of the outdoors.

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