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Fireflies highlight of Fern Hollow program |

Fireflies highlight of Fern Hollow program

| Sunday, July 1, 2018 8:47 p.m.

Ever wonder what makes those tiny fireflies that light up yards across Pennsylvania on balmy summer evenings?

So does the Wissahickon Nature Club and the and the Fern Hollow Nature Center on Glen Mitchell Road in Sewickley Heights.

The two organizations are teaming up to hold a first-time program called Fabulous Fireflies at 8 p.m. July 7 at Fern Hollow Nature Center. The speaker is Jeff Calta, a Butler County man and well-known firefly enthusiast.

“We’re trying to raise awareness,” said Stacey Widenhofer, a Fern Hollow environmental educator.

The timing of the program is spot-on as well, as July 7 is the first-ever World Firefly Day, according to the Fireflyers International Network, a group of firefly enthusiasts and scientists.

Plus, the firefly — sometimes called a lightning bug —is Pennsylvania’s state insect. Indiana and South Dakota also have the firefly as its state insect, albeit different species.

There are more than 2,000 different firefly species, according to

The insect, comparable in size to a paper clip, has an average life span of two months. It is also considered to be part of the nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae and are actually beetles.

The insect’s flashing lights come from light organs in its abdomen and its flashing is unique to each species and is used to attract potential mates.

Widenhofer said about 40 people have signed up to hear Calta’s talk. Following his presentation, there will be a bonfire with s’mores, she added.

Suzanne Elliott is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at, 412-627-9423, or via Twitter at @41Suzanne.

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