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Credits: Tito Sacchi.

Among animals, insects are not universally liked, but fireflies usually are somehow an exception. The magic of  their light emissions in the darkness of the night is generally matter of fascination, especially when such an observation is experienced  during childhood. Anyway, observing fireflies has become an uncommon experience for most human population, since those insects are declining, due to several threats that during the last decades have worked as critical factors: light pollution, urbanization, agricultural intensification, pesticide use.

Credits: Quintino Mita.

It is reasonable to hypothesize that since the ‘50s firefly populations in Europe have suffered from the deep change in landscape structure due to both agricultural modernization and urbanization. At the same time it is not easy to support the opinion that in Italy they are recently re-colonizing areas where they got extinct in the past, since a National Survey – similar to the ones in other countries(i.e. U.K., Switzerland) – for monitoring such organisms is still missing. Anyway in the last decades the growth of environmental  awareness and interest in wildlife conservation has stimulated many events aimed at contacting the world of fireflies in their habitat. Year by year the number of “magic nights” devoted to firefly observation is increasing as well as the involvement of citizens.

Those events are particularly relevant because fireflies work as biological indicators to get the public to approach problems such as biodiversity loss, light pollution and impact of both urbanization and agricultural intensification on wildlife. Therefore this website was set to meet the growing interest in firefly biology and protection of their habitats in the hope of helping improvethe knowledge of those charming organisms by providing information on their biology, distribution, ecological role and threats to their life, with a special emphasis on Italian species.

Luciola adult male. Credits: Francesco Tomasinelli.
Lampyris larva on a prey. Credits: Francesco Tomasinelli.