GIBBON — For many people, fireflies signal the magic of summer.

“As kids we played outside at night a lot,” said Bill Taddicken, director of Rowe Sanctuary. “Fireflies were a big part of our nighttime activities — chasing them and keeping them in jars. And we think everybody has fireflies. I was working at a gas station once and a guy drove up and wanted to know what the things flashing in the field were. He was from Arizona and had never seen them before.”

The staff at Rowe Sanctuary will explore fireflies during the annual Firefly Picnic, 7:30-9:30 p.m. today (Saturday). Admission is free. Participants are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy at the sanctuary, 44450 Elm Island Road, southwest of Gibbon.

The fireflies commonly found in central Nebraska thrive in wet and wooded areas and use bioluminescent light to attract mates. More than 2,000 species can be found throughout the world.

“Some are aquatic and some are found in fields and marshes,” Taddicken said. “Their choice is to live in warm and humid areas near standing water of some kind — ponds, stream, rivers.”

The Firefly Picnic is designed for child/adult teams to look for the insects and to learn more about them. Taddicken understands the value of learning in an actual environment where the insects live.

“Experiencing everything firsthand is more important because you can be engaged in the sensory thing,” he said. “It’s everything from the fireflies surrounding you to the different colors and the way they display their flashes.”

The director noted that the annual picnic is one of the most popular events at Rowe Sanctuary.

For more information call 308-468-5282 or visit www.rowesanctuary.org.

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