How Long Do Lightning Bugs Live (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 1 year

The lightning bug or fireflies are from the family of the beetles and not flies. These bugs cannot survive for a long time as they have really short lifespan. The majority of the insects from North America would not survive for a longer period. Once the lightning bug would reach adulthood, then they will not have a lifespan of more than 2 months.

It takes a lot of time for the lightning bugs to become adults. The growth of fireflies happens in four stages and the stage is recognized as complete metamorphosis. It’s not easy to say how many months a lightning bug would survive as they may have a different lifespan. Some lightning bugs would live for 11 months while others for 12 months.

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How Long Do Lightning Bugs Live?

Lightning BugsHow Long Do Lightning Bugs Live
Maximum lifespan1 year
Minimum lifespan2 years

The female lightning bugs would lay eggs on the logs or ground after mating. Then the eggs need to be kept warm to make them hatch. This can be done by the lightning bugs as they can sit on the eggs to make them warm. The process would continue for around 3 weeks, then the eggs would hatch.

The next stage is larvae, where the lightning bugs would have elongated and flattened structures. In the larval stage, the lightning bugs would be wingless. The most surprising part about lightning bugs is that they can produce light during the larval stage. These larvae would feed themselves spiders, snails, and many other insects, as they are carnivorous.

The larvae spend their resting or pupating stage within their protected habitats. During this stage, the lightning bugs would not move and stay in a constant form. In this stage, people may think that the lightning bugs are doing nothing, but there are many changes and developments happening to them.

The lightning bugs are growing into adults during the resting stage and their wings would be developing in this stage. The adult would grow up completely during the mid or early summer season. The adult lightning bugs would be recognizable by the people due to their luminescent quality. The length of the lightning bugs would be around half an inch with elytra.

Elytra is the term used for the wings of the lightning bugs that are brown in color. The border or edges of the hard brown wings of the lightning bugs would have orange or yellow linings. The lightning bugs have their light-emitting part at the end of their abdomen.

Why Do Lightning Bugs Live This Long?

The lightning bugs would not be able to survive for a long duration. The bugs can survive around 2 months after they leave their resting stage or pupating stage. If all the stages are counted, then the lifespan of the lightning bugs would be around 1 year. The lightning bugs would be capable of flying and mating during their adulthood.

The main goal of the lightning bugs is to find the signal of male lightning bugs by the luminescent quality and then mating. There will be some lightning bugs that stay in the larvae stage for around 24 months. The luminescence effects of the lightning bugs would stay safe during the larvae stage. The lightning bugs can emit light due to the chemical reaction in the body.

The firefly can emit bioluminescent light due to the reaction of oxygen with calcium and many other elements. The light produced by the lightning bugs would not produce any kind of heat. The light produced by the lightning bugs during the larvae stage would prevent the predators from eating them.

The lightning bugs produce a very weird and distasteful chemical as a defensive weapon against the predator. The light produced would be a signal for the predators to not eat the larvae.


The lifespan of the firefly or lightning bugs would be around 12 months. Some fireflies live around 2 years, as they spent a lot of time in the larvae stage. The lightning bugs love long grasses as they find them a good place to hide. Fireflies are extremely small with elongated bodies, and this makes it difficult to see lightning bugs.

The lightning bugs are extremely friendly as they don’t bite or sting. The fireflies need space, and keeping them in a confined area would not be a good choice. Therefore, it’s not recommended to keep the lightning bugs as pets.


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