Monday, July 14, 2008

Firefly Watch Update

--- On Fri, 7/11/08, Museum of Science <> wrote:
From: Museum of Science <>

Date: Friday, July 11, 2008, 2:17 PM

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July 11, 2008

Firefly Watch Update


It is amazing how word of Firefly Watch has spread. A month before the project's April launch, I sent a notice to a handful of environmental organizations in Massachusetts . Now, we have firefly watchers in 38 states as well as Canada and Panama . As I write this update, there are 693 watchers who have registered their habitats.

How did so many people in so many places hear about the project? Mostly from you. Many of you have told your family and friends. Others have put notices on listservs or blogs. Thank you for all of your help in spreading the word and making this project a success.

However, we need your help once again. Although 693 watchers have registered their habitats, only 289 have entered data. Even if you don't see fireflies, we want to know. As with any project of this type, the more data we can collect, the more valid it becomes. So please take a minute to log in and send us your observations. If you are having trouble entering your data, drop us a line and we will help you through it.

Don Salvatore
Museum of Science

Firefly Watch My Field Journal View and Explore Data


Learn moreQ. Is it possible to take a picture of fireflies flashing in my back yard at night?

A. David Murray, a science educator at the Museum, sent me this photo along with an explanation of how he did it.

The exposure for the firefly picture was 30 seconds at f/4 with the ISO set to 3200. The camera must be on a tripod to avoid movement. People should try the highest ISO setting their camera has and experiment with the exposure time. This setting with considerable sky glow produced an almost daylight-looking picture.

The camera should be set to manual exposure and manual focus, if possible. Some auto-focus cameras are unable to make an exposure because the camera doesn't focus in very low light. The focus should be set just inside of infinity or whatever is the approximate distance of the fireflies.

Give it a try, and good luck! If you get a good picture, you might want to participate in a separate firefly study by Yang Zing of Ohio Sate University (read more at right).

More Frequently Asked Questions


Thanks for your work on the firefly study. My children, especially my 10 year old, are very interested in the fact that they are participating in real science.

When we registered our habitat, we noticed there weren't very many others registered in our area. So I sent a letter to the editor of the Concord Monitor, which ran last week.

I wish you all success in this project, and thanks again for involving Citizen Scientists.


I just entered my observations for this evening -- I checked the "green" option for all of them, but they were all in fact blue. Blue I tell you!


Editor's note: More about blue fireflies in next update. And, keep an eye out for our new online discussion board, coming soon to the Firefly Watch site.


Habitats reporting: 289

Fireflies spotted: 5200+

Registered habitats: 693


Remember, don't handle fireflies if you have insect repellant on your hands. It's safe to assume that they find it as noxious as mosquitoes do.

Get More Tips


Firefly Watch is scheduled to be featured on NPR's "Living on Earth" this Sunday!


Do you know someone who would like to join Firefly Watch?

Forward this email!


Yang Zing, a graduate student at Ohio State University , is trying to establish a standard method to use digital cameras to monitor changes in the firefly population. If you are willing to help him by taking night-time photographs of your firefly habitat, please contact him at

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