How To Catch a Lightning Bug | Easy Steps To Follow

Hello viewers! It is/was a beautiful day, isn’t it? many people have come to our private messages saying they want to know how to catch a lightning bug. In this article, we will be teaching you how to build a lightning bug lantern. In order to do that, first, you would need to find and catch some bugs.

Catching lightning bugs is all about patience. You see one flash and then you lose it, you see a flash over there and you lose it again. Now the tactic that most people like to use is to follow the flash a couple of times and then turn on a flashlight really fast and swipe it up with a catching net.


What are the Facts About Lightning Bugs?

There are over 2,000 species of fireflies (lightning bugs) throughout our planet. They live on every continent (North America specifically) except for Antarctica.

There are 150 different species of lightning bugs, But the Eastern lightning bug is unarguably the most common species found in the United States.

Now let us talk a little bit about lightning bugs or are they fireflies? That’s a great question. Now, both terms technically are completely fine. However, these insects are not flies, but in fact, are true beetles (there are hundreds of thousands of beetle species worldwide).

The Eastern lightning bug is without question the most common species you are going to find in your backyard if you live in the following regions:



Places You Will Find the Eastern Lightning Bug

1. Ohio
2. West Virginia
3. Kentucky
4. Michigan
5. The Carolinas
6. Indiana
7. Tennessee


If you live in any of these regions, this is the insect you are going out seeing lighting up the night sky.

Now, these bugs are rather unique and I would wager to say that the lightning bug has no humans they are actually afraid of. Humans seem to love lightning bugs and the reason for that is that they are completely friendly.

They have no stinger and no biting mouthparts so if something can’t bite you and it can’t sting you, why would you be afraid of it? It is a completely safe species to interact with.


Read more: What Does Firefly Eat? Interesting Facts About Firefly Diet


What are the Stages of Growth of the Lightning Bug?

The lightning bug has a very interesting life cycle. Like most beetles, when the male and female breed, the female then goes down to the ground and lays her eggs, those eggs, then hatch into larvae.

The larvae bury down into the soil and will spend up to two years feasting off different little microorganisms that it comes across. After they go through the larva stage, they go through metamorphosis and then hatch into more lightning bugs.

One amazing fact to note is that the males and females come up out of the ground between the months of June and September to start the breeding dance and they only live for between 5 and 30 days.

The life cycle lasts for nearly two years underground and only a month above ground.

And what’s unique about their breeding cycle is that it is one of the most celebrated insect gatherings in the world. In fact, there are some locations where people actually gather together to see the spectacle (lightning bugs) lighting up the night sky.


What is Responsible For the Lightning Bug’s Glow?

It is something called bioluminescence!

Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction that happens within an organism’s body that causes light. The reason it causes light is that these insects have a molecule inside of them known as luciferin.

Luciferin mixes with oxygen and causes light, hence the fact that they light up the night sky.

Like all insects lightning bugs have 3 basic body parts:

  • A Head
  • A Thorax
  • An Abdomen.

Looking at the lightning bug closely you will see a little yellow pocket; that is where the luciferin is stored. When the lightning bug isn’t glowing it just looks as if it is pale yellow.

When the lightning bug lights up that is exactly where the glow is coming from. The abdomen is actually referred to as the lantern.


Read more: How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternflies | DIY Pest Control


How To Catch a Lightning Bug?

Catching a lightning bug is all about having great aim and hand-eye coordination.

Once you see the lightning bugs, light up the bunks (although this actually scares them away and they become even harder to catch).

Couldn’t tell you how many were inside the capture jar. I think it’s time to build the Lightning Bug Lantern. And we’re back.

Now you’ve got them in the net, so over to the next step: Build your lightning bug lantern!


What are the Steps to Build a Lightning Bug Lantern?

How To Catch A Lightning Bug
A Lightning Bug Lantern

The first step in this process is to find some nice fresh green grass.

It is usually advisable to do this indoors as some of the lightning bugs will probably try to get away in the process.

If some escape, it is okay because they are just going to head right back off into the environment.

Next drop in a few leaves as these leaves provide the opportunity for the lightning bugs to hide and take shelter (during the day these insects love to stay hidden and out of sight).

The last little piece you need for your lantern is a couple of twigs. Do well to pick t twigs that have a bunch of different little branches on them so that the lightning bugs feel as if they have a jungle gym that gives them something to climb around on and perch on.

Okay, now it is time to add your lightning bugs to your jar (lantern) This process is a little difficult as the lightning bugs will be crawling around inside your plastic catch container. We recommend you just gently tap on the surface to get them to drop down into the jar.

If you can get them to come out and onto the edge of the container, you can almost funnel and gently feed them down into your lantern. It would be quite impressive if you are able to get 95% of your lightning bugs into the actual lantern.

Now the very last thing that you want to use is your little piece of bendable wire. This is how you actually complete the lantern by making a little handle.

NB. (For kids) If you are working with wire it may not be a bad idea to have your parents help you a little bit. If the handle is nice and secure then you have got yourself your very own summer lightning bug lantern.

Note, that this is not a species that you want to keep forever since they have a very short life cycle. We recommend you go out just before sunset to catch your lightning bugs, build your container, get it set up, place it next to your bed before you tuck in, and you are going to have the perfect lightning bug night light.


Read more: Are Mosquitoes Attracted To Light?



We believe you now know how to catch a lightning bug. So what about you, how would you catch your lightning bugs? What other interesting facts do you know about lightning bugs? Do drop them in the comment section as we would love to know your thoughts on this.

Have a lightning bug good night fam!

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