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seeing a blue ghost

Blue ghosts: spirits of the forest

  • August 22, 2019
  • No Comments

seeing a blue ghost

Blue ghosts

The blue ghost firefly ( Phausis reticulata ) is a species of particular fascination here in the Great Smoky Mountains. Their eerie name comes from the singular, long-lasting, flash of males which can remain illuminated for up to one minute at a time. These flashes are often so bright that they cast onto the ground below creating a spotlight effect. Blue ghost females are less alluring, but nonetheless interesting. While males look like typical, winged beetles, female blue ghosts do not grow wings and resemble larvae even as adults. They glow from a series of four to nine spots located throughout their bodies for the entirety of the night and can be seen from upwards of 10 feet away in very dark settings. Both sexes are small compared to most other fireflies, growing to around 5-9 mm or about the size of a grain of rice.

seeing a blue ghost

Where to find them

Blue ghosts can be found in mountains and valleys of the Southern Appalachians, including parts of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In these regions, Blue ghosts like wooded areas ranging from 200 to 4,200 feet in elevation. Males typically hover 18-36 inches above the ground, while females often hide under leaf litter.

When they display

Blue ghosts have two peak display periods in the Southern Appalachians. The first begins in April and lasts until late May. Within this peak, these insects can be seen in the highest densities from 9:00-9:30 PM. The second peak in mid-June is smaller, with the best viewing from 9:30-11:00 PM, since sunset is delayed as summer progresses. During these periods, viewers are in for a spectacular light show that’s quite different that the display of most other fireflies. Unfortunately, this species and its show is at risk, just as many other species facing the march of human development.

seeing a blue ghost

Problems faced by fireflies

Currently, blue ghosts face a number of problems caused by human activity in their habitat. Light pollution from sprawling cities and cars increases ambient light, making it harder for females to see males; that is if the males even flash with increased background photic noise. The second is habitat loss from human development. As forests are turned into agricultural fields or housing, valuable habitat is lost. This is a particular issue for Blue Ghosts because of how relatively immobile they are. Females cannot fly and rely on at least a moderately moist understory to survive. Males are similarly bound to a small area due to their weak flying skills. For these reasons populations of Blue Ghosts are limited to small home ranges, which yields a species that is likely to dwindle in the face of habitat loss.

How can you help?

As an individual, there are numerous things you can do in your own backyard to help limit your impact on blue ghosts and many of the other species of fireflies that call the southeast home. Let your yard run wild sometimes! By allowing vegetation to grow, you create a microhabitat that is more favorable for fireflies. Yard lights can help you get around at night, but they create light pollution and darkness is key for fireflies. Consider using timers that allow for periods of darkness or just turn off your outside lights when you’re not actively utilizing the space. On a larger scale you can purchase organically grown fruits and vegetables that don’t utilize pesticides, which can kill firefly adults and soil-dwelling larvae. Lastly, you can support national parks and other public reserves. These spaces represent a few of the remaining vestiges of relatively pristine firefly habitat and your support helps conserve these natural landscapes for future generations of fireflies, as well as humans.

Find out more

For more information about fireflies, as well as some beautiful photos, check out the following books:

  • Fireflies, glow-worms, and lightning bugs: Identification and natural history of the fireflies of the eastern and central United States and Canada by Lynne Faust ( link )
  • Firefly experience by Radim Schreiber ( link )
  • Silent sparks: The wondrous world of fireflies by Sara Lewis ( link )

This article was written by Gus Elmore, a biology intern at Discover Life in America. Find out more about DLiA and its internship program at .

  • Faust, L. F. (2017). Fireflies, glow-worms, and lightning bugs: Identification and natural history of the fireflies of the eastern and central United States and Canada . University of Georgia Press. 376 pp. ( link )
  • Frick-Ruppert, J. E., & Rosen, J.J. (2008). Morphology and behavior of Phausis reticulata (Blue Ghost Firefly). Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science . 139-147. ( link )

Thanks to Radim Schreiber for granting us the use his gorgeous photos.

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seeing a blue ghost

How do you find a Blue Ghost?

Whit Gibbons

The Blue Ghost. A specter in a folk tale? A villain in an old Western? No. It’s a firefly (aka lightning bug) that emits a bluish-green light instead of the classic yellow associated with backyard lightning bugs. Blue ghost males fly low to the ground, creating an eerie night scene in the woods. The wingless females are on the ground, emitting a glow from tiny portholes on a wormlike body. Some males shine a tiny spotlight like a police helicopter’s as they fly over the ground in search of females.

I was with two experts. One expert, Joe Mitchell, is a herpetologist. He was of no more help than I was in searching for a mysterious firefly. The other, Lynn Faust, is the author of "Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs" (2017; University of Georgia Press). She is an international expert on these bioluminescent beetles. Always helps to have an expert around when searching for an animal or plant with which you are unfamiliar.

Blue ghosts occur in the southern Appalachians and appear in early spring. None had been found where we were, more than a hundred miles to the south. Lynn was on a quest to determine if they were present. They had been found in another area nearby. We might not find blue ghosts, but we were certain to see other fireflies on the excursion, with an expert to identify them.

We set out around sunset and walked for three hours through woods, along the edge of a swamp and beside a deserted road. Our quarry already had its own light. Fireflies depend on their blinking lights for vital communication between males and females. We did not want to distract them with a handheld source of light pollution. We wanted them to go about their nighttime business undisturbed by us. Proceeding without benefit of flashlight added to the sense of adventure, and walking in the dark can be an exhilarating experience in itself. If we had turned on a flashlight or a cell phone, our eyes would have needed several minutes to readjust to the dark.

Our first firefly sighting came at dusk — white flashes high in the trees as we overlooked the swamp. The species is known as the spring treetop flasher. This time, the lights were what we were looking for. Earlier, trying to be the first to spot the firefly after Lynn told us what to look for, I had pointed out the lights of an airplane. In most of the eastern United States, the spring treetop flasher is the first flashing firefly seen each year. Most younger people see a yellow color. As we age, the flashing lights can appear white. In her book, Lynn has a fascinating section on how color perception of some firefly lights changes as we get older.

Spring treetop flashers use tree trunks for mating and for laying their eggs. They are often seen as high-flying lights in the trees in early spring. We saw dozens during the night, most near the tops of tall trees. That was the only firefly we saw flying that night. Each species has a signature pattern of flashing that can be used for identification. Later in the spring, several other species will appear, most glowing much lower to the ground. In late May, we will watch for the synchronous fireflies. Thousands light up the woods at once and then go dark for a few seconds, a phenomenon we have seen at this same location in previous years.

To find most wild animals, you have to be in the right place, during the right season, at the right time of day or night. We did not find the blue ghost firefly in our woods nor in our swamp that night. But I have confidence that the place is right. The season is right. Now all I need to find is the right night. I plan to go looking again soon.

Whit Gibbons, professor emeritus of ecology, University of Georgia, grew up in Tuscaloosa. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Send environmental questions to [email protected].

The Different Colors of Ghost Orbs and Their Meanings

Ghost orbs come in all different colors, sizes and shapes. They are often seen from the corner of the eye, in photographs or when it is dark. Ghost orbs can be a variety of things including residual, elemental, earth or human energy, negative manifestations or entities, spirits, angels and ghosts. Although orbs are different than a human aura, a person can give off an orb under the right circumstances. Paranormal circles often debate the phenomena of orbs. Some individuals believe a ghost orb is an indication there is a spirit nearby.

seeing a blue ghost

Orbs are frequently photographed or seen when paranormal activity has taken place. Ghost orbs are extremely common in paranormal videos and photography. Orbs can appear for numerous reasons including the coloring of the lens of the camera, reflective surfaces, rain, bugs, dust and water spots. These reflections can cause the appearance of a ghost orb. The possibility there are orbs with a paranormal nature definitely exists. This is especially true if the orb is seen through the naked eye. Many of these orbs have unusual travel patterns and their own source of light. The different types of ghost orbs include:

Table of Contents

Bright white, bright yellow, solid black, bright orange, bright green, bright blue, hot pink or fuchsia, deep purple, ​light pink, violet purple, black with a light outline, violet purple with a white outline, murky or dark orange, grayish or murky white, dark or murky red, dark or murky pink, dark mustard or murky yellow, dark or murky green.

This is very different from gray energy. This orb has a white and shiny outline. This symbolizes congratulations, courage and strength. You may see this orb as congratulations for an important accomplishment.

This orb is a suggestion divine energy is following you or on your side. This is believed to be energy sent from the heavens when you are sad, grieving, worried or scared. Numerous experts believe this light is sent by God when it is needed the most.

Shiny white surrounding gold energy means something wonderful is headed in your direction or you are receiving a reward. This may signify stability and prosperity.

This orb contains a lot of energy. This type of ghost orb is sent to energize your aura or provide you mind and body with strength. If the orb is almost neon and very bright it means you require replenishment.

If the orb is solid black but lacking any glow, this is the manifestation of a negative entity. If this orb is being given off by a person, they are either having negative thoughts or plan to take action regarding something negative.

This is an indication that a protective and good spirit is close. The spirit may be there to provide protection or because they have befriended your spirit and wish to visit. A bright orange ghost orb is never a reason for concern since these are the good spirits.

seeing a blue ghost

There are two different meanings for a burgundy orb. Either greed is close or prosperity is coming. This type of orb is often given by a materialistic individual or spirit. If not, the orb will probably pop.

Gray orbs are residual energy from nearly anything. This includes trails left behind by an entity, animals and people. This is nothing more than dead energy with absolutely no purpose.

When you see an indigo orb, you are being protected by numerous warrior guardians. This is different than a guardian angel. These angels are not human and only come when their protection is required. They can stop the occurrence of a negative event.

You will most likely see this orb when your energy requires cleansing or when you are low on energy. If you need protection, this ghost orb will pop. Bright red orbs are referred to as the light of the warrior because they will guard you when you are weak or scared.

If you need healing, this orb will pop. Green is the color of medicinal orbs. You may see one of these orbs if you are mentally or physically unwell.

This orb is a type of healing energy. The orb will focus on cleansing your soul or improving your mental state. Bright blue orbs are energizing and refreshing.

seeing a blue ghost

You will see this orb bouncing around when love is near, you are falling in love or already in love. This orb will strengthen your hope, confidence and soul.

This ghost orb denotes loyalty. Seeing one means someone loves you very much, cares a lot about you or is thinking of you from far away.

This orb means guidance will be provided from an authority figure close to your location. This may be a spirit guide or an angel.

Cupids leave behind this color of energy. They are aware when you need self-assurance or love. When you are considering a new love interest, they will tell you when it is okay. They may also be there to let you know there will be an improvement in your love life.

You will usually see this orb due to the residual energy of children or when a child is present. Your excitement over a new baby or pregnancy may cause this ghost orb to appear.

This orb is telling you a human-angel is close. This may be a loved one coming for a visit.

This orb is similar in appearance to a lunar eclipse. The center is black with a white outline around the edges. This means you require psychological strength and protection.

This ghost orb means your guardian angels are close. These non-human angels will appear when you need them the most.

This is a warning orb made of pure energy. This is not typical energy, a spirit or a ghost. This manifestation is a warning about specific places you must not enter or certain events. If this is a person’s aura, your are being told whether to associate with this individual or not. This aura can also be carried by a spirit experiencing a negative turn or difficult times.

If the ghost orb is grayish-white or white with a murky under-tone, there are most likely ghosts or lost souls nearby. These ghosts are trying to find their way back home and believe you may be able to provide the help they require. If the orb triggers a feeling of malaise, it is because the ghost is experiencing negativity.

seeing a blue ghost

This generally indicates a bad spirit is close by or a spirit has become weak, depressed or angry. These spirits do not feel well, have bad intentions and are interested in either bringing down or terrorizing the manifestations and people around you. This includes you.

These orbs will appear when you have allowed your insecurities to take over or are feeling hopeless or disconsolate regarding love.

Pay attention to this ghost orb because they appear to provide cautionary warnings. If you see this orb in a room, they are telling you not to go inside. If you see this color on a person’s aura, you need to stay clear of them.

This ghost orb is not always bad. This orb appears when negative energy is released by an animal or a person or when they are healing from a difficult time, an injury or an illness.

Please note that this article is for entertainment purposes only. Obs are more likely to be seen due to the camera’s flash being reflected from unfocused motes of dust, water droplets, or other particles in the air or water. In photography, this is called backscatter.


What does an orb outlined in black, but the center is white and gold, almost like stars sparkling mean?

As an orb, I suppose by reading their definitions it means that though the area will give a negative impact, you will be given experience and a positive impact as well. Like a non-zero-sum situation? I have no experience in this scenario but that’s my opinion.

How do you tell the difference between gold and yellow?

Gold is darker then yellow hope that helps 🙂

What if I see violet and a light blue outline?

This is so retarded. The orbs are caused by light reflections off of dust particles in the air. The camera picks them up due to the exposure time. There’s nothing paranormal about it, it’s just a quirk of modern cameras.

Ty for the help this website is so cool

I have a bright turquoise outline in bright white ring all inside a sphere!? Can u help me with this color!? Also I have a odd shape in my fourth picture same color. What does it mean to have a different shape!? Thank you

My game cams have thee most strange recordings.. it’s almost as if there is some kind of spirit using the energy from my headlights to travel and it’s kind of scary looking .. also I have two recordings of these I call them “earth creatures”.. one looks like let’s say Bart Simpson, the other is bigger and and appears to have a large tree limb protruding out his forehead 6’-10’ also I do believe I have a space ship that landed in front of my game cam you can see the big headed pilot n big eyeballs.. but nobody seem to care and I think it’s amazing.. oh yea and also what about these flying orbs that I have flying around bright white big head then they have like other bright white dots that kinda look like vertebrates trailing behind the head? I think they are dangerous because one video I have shows a bright white human figure that kinda looks like me, but the camera I think was a little too close to whoever and it shows one coming straight down out of the sky entering the skull n dude falls out straight to the ground .. I would like some reasonable explanations if someone could help I would very much appreciate it, thanks.

Just seen a murky grayish whit kind of big in the sky fallen to the ground and not seen anymore what is it

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5 Most Common Types Of Ghosts and Spirits

Have you ever seen a ghost.

Many of us have weird sensations about seeing shadows or shapes out of the corner of our eye, only for them to disappear when we turn to look. And while you may be one of those people who is not afraid of such a paranormal experience, did you ever stop and wonder just what kind of ghostly apparition you encountered? Maybe, like most folks, you didn’t even consider that there could be different kinds of ghosts out there. But the fact is, experts in the field have put together a list and definitions of the types of supernatural phenomena that exist and it may come in handy, especially if you’re headed out on a Ghosts & Gravestones Tour.

Main Content

Types of ghosts and spirits, 1. the interactive personality.

The most common of all ghosts spotted is usually of a deceased person, someone you know, a family member or perhaps even a historical figure. These ghosts can be friendly or not – but often show themselves to others in a variety of ways. They can become visible; they can speak or make noises, touch you or even emit an odor like perfume or cigar smoke, etc, to let you know they are there. Experts say that this type of ghost retains its former personality of when they were alive and can feel emotions. And often, they are visiting you to comfort you or let you know something important. So if you happen to see a lost loved one, chances are they are there because they feel you want or need to see them.

2. The Ectoplasm or Ecto-Mist

Ever seen a mist or fog that almost looks like it’s swirling? If so, you may be witnessing what paranormal investigators deem as an ecto-mist or ghostly mist. This vaporous cloud usually appears several feet off the ground and can move swiftly or simply stay still – almost likes it’s orbiting. These ghostly encounters have been captured on many videos and in photographs and can be white, gray or even black. Although they can simply appear this way, linger then move away quickly, sometimes ectoplasms appear before becoming a full-bodied apparition. Many people have witnessed them outdoors, in graveyards, battlefields and historical sites.

3. The Poltergeist

Perhaps one of the most popular terms most of us have heard when it comes to ghosts, the word poltergeist actually means “noisy ghost” because it is said to have the ability to move or knock things over, make noise and manipulate the physical environment. While many of us had heard the term before, a poltergeist is actually one of the rarest forms of hauntings and to many, the most terrifying. Loud knocking sounds, lights turning on and off, doors slamming, even fires breaking out mysteriously have all been attributed to this type of a spiritual disturbance. Another frightening aspect of the poltergeist is that the event usually starts out slowly and mildly, then begins to intensify. And while many times poltergeist activity is harmless and ends quickly, they have been known to actually become dangerous. Some experts explain it as a mass form of energy that a living person is controlling unknowingly. Whatever the case may be, poltergeists have caught the attention of paranormal enthusiasts and experts, scientists and many others who are just plain curious.

Orbs are probably the most photographed type of anomaly. They appear as a transparent or translucent ball of light that is hovering over the ground. Many ghost hunters and guests on Ghosts & Gravestones are surprised to see them in their photos. It is believed that orbs are the soul of a human or even an animal that has died and is traveling around from one place to another. The circular shape they take on makes it easier for them to move around and is often the first state they appear in before they become a full-bodied apparition. If you’re lucky enough to capture an orb on video, you’ll be amazed by how fast they can move. In photographs they are usually white but can be blue as well.

5. Funnel Ghosts

Most often spotted in homes or old historical buildings, the funnel ghost or vortex is frequently associated with a cold spot. They usually take on the shape of a swirling funnel and most paranormal experts believe they are a loved one returning for a visit or even a former resident of the home. Appearing as a wisp of light or a swirling spiral of light, they are often caught in photographs or on video.

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seeing a blue ghost

Blue Ghost Fireflies: 5 Things You May Not Know

seeing a blue ghost

If you live in western NC, you’ve probably heard of a firefly called a blue ghost. If you live elsewhere, and have never heard of this firefly, let me introduce you. 

Blue ghost fireflies live only in the eastern United States, along the Appalachian Mountains. Unlike other fireflies that have blinking patterns to attract mates, blue ghost males have tiny lights on their abdomen that stay on for up to one minute as he cruises just a few feet above the forest floor, looking for females. What a surprise, right? Females don’t have wings and so, cannot fly. They wait in the leaf litter, shining their lights in response to the males. Interestingly, females have between 4-7 tiny lights on their abdomens. ( Here you can see what a female looks like! ) If you’re lucky enough to be in a dark forest watching this happen, what you see are hundreds, if not thousands, of light trails moving silently through the darkness. It’s magical! And it will make you shake your head in wonder at the gifts Mother Nature is constantly presenting us with. Thank you Mother Nature!! 

seeing a blue ghost

Here are a few things you may not know about this fireflies:

  • Blue ghost fireflies are only the size of a grain of rice!! They are indeed tiny. 
  • Blue ghost female fireflies guard their eggs, from 20-30 tiny eggs, until their deaths. Females curl their abdomens to protectively gather her eggs and despite her tiny size, she will defend them from predators. After her death the eggs are on their own, and many are eaten before they can develop into adult fireflies. 
  • Blue ghost fireflies–like other fireflies– require darkness and moist leaf litter. Darkness is essential to allow males to find females. Imagine if the ground was covered with patches of artificial light–how can that tiny male find that tiny female? She essentially disappears and he is left forever looking. Leaf litter is also essential because in their larval stage, fireflies live in the leaf litter. Without it, they cannot survive. 
  • Blue ghost firefly larvae– like other species of fireflies–are voracious predators, able to eat prey much larger than themselves. Favorites include worms, snails and slugs. 
  • As adults, blue ghost fireflies, like most other fireflies, do not feed. Their main goal as adults is to mate and reproduce. 

If you want to witness this magical event, I’m leading blue ghost firefly tours in May. Here’s how you can reserve your spot. I hope to see you there! 

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  • Special Invitation: Blue Ghost & Moth Viewing Party!
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  • Ready to Sign Up for Blue Ghost Firefly Tours!

2 thoughts on “ Blue Ghost Fireflies: 5 Things You May Not Know ”

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Re the last photo captioned ‘This is a female blue ghost. She has no wings.’: I am surprised she is a larva, or at least that is how she appears to me. How can a larva lay eggs? How does she have the speed of movement to defend her eggs? Wouldn’t the female only be capable of reproduction if she were an adult? She doesn’t look anything like an adult. I would love to see the mating display of the blue ghosts, but I am much too far away. Thanks.

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Murray, the female blue ghost is what’s called paedomorphic. This means they remain in larval form through adulthood but are sexually mature and can mate and reproduce. As for speed of movement– I doubt she can move very fast and obviously most things are bigger than her so will just eat her to get to the eggs. But she will curl her abdomen around her small clutch of eggs to protect them until her death.

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Dream About Blue Ghost

->Send Your Dream - 04 Oca , 2019

Check to the end of the page. so you don't miss out on the details of your dream interpretation

Dreaming a blue ghost can have a few meanings stemming from the dreamer's individual experiences, emotions, and beliefs.

A blue ghost in a dream can also indicate secrets or hidden aspects in the dreamer's personality. There may be aspects of one's personality that don't align, or the dreamer is repressing a part of themselves in order to be accepted. This can lead to inner conflict, insecurity or feelings of guilt.

It is also possible that the blue spirit in the dream symbolizes a personified fear or panic attack. These emotions can often stem from a current situation or event that poses a threat or uncertainty to the dreamer.

To find the accurate interpretation of a blue ghost dream, it is important to consider all aspects of the dream, including the context, one's emotions, and experiences.

If you dreamed of a blue ghost, it may represent something or someone from your past that is still haunting you in the present.

The color blue can symbolize feelings of sadness or melancholy, and the ghost may represent unresolved issues or emotions that you have not fully processed or dealt with.

The ghost may also represent a part of yourself that you have disowned or rejected, and its appearance in your dream could be a sign that you need to integrate this aspect of yourself in order to feel more whole and complete.

Alternatively, the blue ghost could represent a sense of emptiness or lack of meaning in your life. The ghostly image may symbolize a feeling of detachment or disconnection from the world around you, or a sense of being lost or adrift.

The emotions that you experienced during the dream can provide important clues about its meaning. If you felt afraid or threatened by the blue ghost, it may suggest that you are feeling overwhelmed or powerless in your waking life. On the other hand, if you felt a sense of calm or acceptance in the presence of the ghost, it may indicate that you are coming to terms with unresolved issues or emotions from your past.

Overall, the meaning of the dream will depend on the specific details and emotions experienced during the dream. However, it could be a sign that you need to confront and deal with unresolved issues from your past in order to move forward and find a sense of peace and wholeness in your life.

Dreams can reveal a lot about our subconscious mind and what it's trying to tell us. The interpretation of a dream depends on the individual's beliefs, culture, and experiences. Dreaming of a blue ghost can have multiple meanings based on the different interpretations of dreams.

A blue ghost in dreams represents a hidden part of the self that is yet to be discovered. It could mean that there is an unresolved issue or unfulfilled desire that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. It can also symbolize spiritual transformation and the need for introspection to bring about growth and personal development.

The color blue is associated with peace, tranquility, and calmness. A ghost can symbolize past trauma, repressed emotions, or unresolved issues. Thus, dreaming of a blue ghost may indicate the need to find inner peace and resolve inner conflicts. It can also represent communication beyond the physical realm, such as a message from a deceased loved one or a spirit guide.

In some religions, blue is associated with divinity, and a ghost can be seen as a messenger from the divine. Dreaming of a blue ghost may suggest that the dreamer is receiving guidance from a higher power or is being watched over by a guardian angel.

In some cultures, blue ghosts are seen as friendly spirits or ancestors watching over their loved ones. In other cultures, blue is associated with sadness or mourning. Thus, dreaming of a blue ghost can represent the need to grieve over a loss or the longing to connect with one's ancestors.

Dreaming of a blue ghost can indicate suppressed emotions or repressed memories that the subconscious is trying to bring to the surface. It can also symbolize feelings of isolation or loneliness, with the color blue representing sadness and the ghost representing a lost connection or relationship.

  • Reflect on what the blue ghost means to you personally
  • Explore your inner emotions and address any unresolved issues
  • Seek guidance from a spiritual or mental health professional if needed
  • Practice self-care and self-reflection for personal growth and development

Overall, dreaming of a blue ghost can have various meanings based on one's personal experiences, beliefs, and cultural background. It is essential to reflect on the dream's possible interpretations and seek guidance if needed to gain insight into one's subconscious mind.

Dream About Blue Ghost

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seeing a blue ghost

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Blue Ghost Fireflies- Do You Have Them in Your Woods?

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blue ghost fireflies WNC by Jay Michaud

Blue ghost fireflies appear in WNC each May in deep dark woods. Photo by Jay Michaud

Blue ghost fireflies appear around Hendersonville and Asheville, North Carolina for just two weeks or so each year. Blue ghost firefly males glow just over the ground looking like so many fairies dancing through the night. This unique display occurs from the beginning to the end of May as the male blue ghosts use their unique bluish white luminescence to attract a mate.

firepinks in the forest

Blue ghost fireflies live in dark, mature woodlands with a high canopy, large rhododendrons and mountain laurels with old leaf litter on the forest floor. If you have dark adjusted eyes at 9 p.m., you might find the insect in your local forest.

The bluish color of the blue ghost firefly is unusual among fireflies. Unlike other fireflies who turn their lights on and off, blue ghosts stay lit for up to a minute. Also, the females do not fly but situate themselves on the forest floor and glow faintly. The males flying low, hardly ever getting above 24 inches from the ground. The male  using their long glowing flight, entices the female to glow then they mate.

The fireflies may be unique to the southern Appalachians but that does not mean they are rare locally. If you can find a mature undisturbed forest in a dark area that is away from yard and security lighting, then you might find the insects in your neighborhood. The author has found them in the Rugby, Willow, Crab Creek, and Blantyre areas of the county and suspects they can be found in many other areas of the county.

So how to see the blue ghost fireflies? First, locate a mature dark forest with an undergrowth of large rhododendron and mountain laurel where you have permission to access. Start acclimating your eyes to the dark at about 8:30 p.m., extinguishing any artificial lights. If the insects are in the area, you should start to see them wink into view about 9:00 p.m. under the shade of the densest shrubs. As the next hour progresses and the sky darkens, you should see many more blue ghost fireflies. At the time of this writing (May 24, 2021), blue ghosts are in their peak in Henderson County and are spectacular.

Update: Blue ghosts were not as spectacular in 2022 due to a six week dry spell in May. In 2023 the fireflies began about the second week of May and have been great.

Here is a great article from Clemson Extension. Blue ghosts are in up state SC too!

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  • Blue Ghost Fireflies; Native Plants; Light Pollution; Forest Preservation
  • Forest Resources
  • Lawn & Garden

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