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The synchronous fireflies of Nanacamilpa

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Every summer outside the tiny Mexican town of Nanacamilpa, a unique type of firefly puts on one of nature’s most incredible light shows.

These insects are one of the dozen or so species of firefly that signal in a synchronized fashion. The males, taking to the air to woo females, flash a sparkling yellow that undulates like waves through the dark forest.

The species, Macrolampis palaciosi, was first described only seven years ago, and very little is known about its biology.

Filmmaker Blake Congdon captured this national and natural treasure of Mexico at dusk on “a rainy day—with a break in the early evening—on a moonless night, neither too warm nor too cold” in the short film above.

The synchronized summer phenomenon is a new challenge to a once quiet area that is now bustling from firefly tourism. Visitors are in danger of stepping on the females and compacting the earth “where the fireflies live as larvae for many months eating soft-bodied animals like worms and snails before emerging adults.”

fireflies in Nanacamilpa
Like other areas known for their fireflies around the globe, the town is discussing the addition of boardwalks and ecotourism rules for conservation. Read more about the challenge and the science of firefly synchronicity in National Geographic.

fireflies in Nanacamilpa
Watch more firefly videos like In A Flash: Firefly Communication and fireflies sparkle in a Pennsylvania field at dusk on this site.

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