NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Would you believe your eyes if you saw a firefly in New Mexico? Fireflies are not a common sight here in New Mexico, but they’re popping up in some areas.
“I’ve been looking for fireflies in New Mexico for three years now, and every time I find a new population, I’m just thrilled,” said Anna Walker, Species Survival Officer with the New Mexico BioPark Society.
Walker says while the glowing insects are not common here and most New Mexicans have probably never seen them, they’ve been living in the state for a long time. Some documents show they may have lived here as far back as 100 years ago.
“We have probably as many as 13 to 20 different species. We’re still working on filling out that list,” said Walker.
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Now, a likely new species has been discovered in an open space area near Chimayo. “There’s researchers working on that now and hopefully we’ll have an answer at some point. Its pretty likely that it will be a new species,” said Walker.
Why are they now popping up in Chimayo? Walker says its because of the cattle that was cleared from the open space area. By doing this, its created a more suitable habitat for the fireflies. “If cattle move in to an area they tend to trample a lot of the vegetation and compact the soil and firefly larvae spend a year or two in the soil developing before they become adults,” said Walker.
Beavers also help the firefly population by creating a natural habitat for the insects that need standing water to raise their larvae. “Fireflies are really sensitive to environmental change so anytime we see a habitat come suitable for fireflies that gives us a lot of hope that if we put our minds to it we can restore a habitat for these species and help them remain viable for the long term,” said Walker.
According to Walker, fireflies and other organisms enjoy having dark nights. That’s one way you can help fireflies and increase your chance of seeing them; turn off any lights that aren’t needed near your home.