Fireflies for Seven Worlds, One Planet

27 November, 2019

I visited the U.S. last year to capture a synchronous firefly spectacle for BBC’s Seven Worlds, One Planet. We were hoping to film a population of synchronous fireflies that had only recently been brought to the attention of the scientific community, these large displays were only thought to occur in a few other places around the States.

I was reunited with Lynn Faust, a firefly expert, with whom I had filmed for Attenborough’s Life That Glows. Her passion and energy is infectious and we were so lucky to have her on the team, searching far and wide for the greatest spectacles. Her unending knowledge of the fireflies, their peaks, their behaviour, and even their anatomy was invaluable as always.

Using a motion-controlled slider allowed us to move through the fireflies during our timelapses.

Where we filmed the fireflies peak in May and the further north you travel the later the display occurs. This does vary between species but warmth has a big effect on these insects and you can calculate when they will have their highest densities by counting the number of warm days there has been during the year (it’s a big more complicated than this really, but that’s the jist). This would have been very difficult for us to do on our own, without Lynn’s help we would have been lost.

We had some impressive weather while there, but these heavy rains can stop filming for the night, or shorten the display.

The sequence will be part of the North America episode of Seven Worlds, One Planet shown on BBC in December 2019. The series will be broadcast in the U.S. on BBC America, AMC, IFC and SundanceTV from January 18th 2020.