Summer nights glow and twinkle thanks to an illuminating insect, the firefly. There are over 2,000 kinds of fireflies in the world. In North America, we have at least 136 species.
The reason these insects glow is to attract a mate or lure in a tasty snack. Each species of firefly has its own special pattern of light flashes. To find a mate, the firefly has to find a matching light. Some hungry fireflies will flash a wrong pattern on purpose and will eat the insects that come too close.
Get the whole family involved for summer-night thrills with these firefly games. These activities are just a few ideas from a book called “Explore Night Science!” by Cindy Blobaum.
Flashlights (1 per person)
1. Make two piles of index cards, with five in each pile. Label each card in one pile “girl” and each card in the other pile “boy.”
2. Using the marker, create patterns on the blank sides of the index cards. Use dots and dashes. (See picture above for examples.) Dots mean short flashes of light. Dashes mean longer flashes of light. Make sure the patterns match up, with one of each pattern in the boy pile and girl pile.
3. Put the cards face down. Each person picks a card, but keep your card a secret. If your card says boy, you will be moving around during the game. If your card says girl, you will find a place in the open to sit and wait during the game.
4. Count to 20 to have those holding girl cards find a spot to sit. After 20 seconds, start flashing your lights! Those with boy cards can start moving around.
5. Find your match. If you match, congratulations! If you don’t match, the girl card player eats the non-matching firefly and that player is out.
6. The game is over when everyone finds their match or gets eaten.
7. Mix up the cards and play again!
Flashlights or glow sticks
1. Scatter the flashlights or glow sticks around an open area.
2. Play tag.
3. When the tagger tries to get you, run for a light. If you get to a light before the tagger gets you, you are safe. If you don’t reach a light before you are tagged, you are out.
4. Play until one firefly is left.