We already know that we have a language all to our own here in New Jersey. We’ve got foods that other people don’t have pronunciations that other people don’t use and they only serve to highlight our uniqueness as a state.

But did you know that what we call lightning bugs—that little that little insect that has light in its belly—many people in other parts of the country referred to as fireflies?

No of course, you’ve heard both terms. But you’ll find most people in New Jersey do call them lightning bugs. And of course someone had to do a survey about it. (There are surveys about everything!!!!) The good news is, according to a survey by You Gov America, at least we are not alone in referring to these little critters as lightning bugs.

A good part of the country agrees. 14,132 adults around the country were asked, “What do you most often call the flying insects that emit a light from their abdomen?”

The response choices were either
A Fireflies,
B Lightning bugs,
C Something else,
D I do not have a name for these insects,
E Don’t know.

(Kind of makes you wonder who is in the don’t know category…. But I digress)

But as a girl growing up in California, I had no idea there was another name for the fireflies that I saw blinking around my backyard at night. It wasn’t until I started coming to New Jersey for the summer that I heard the term “lightning bug” to describe them.

I knew there were different words in California than there were back East. For example, I knew that what I called a “binder” some of my New Jersey friends called a “looseleaf.” And what I referred to as front steps my jersey friends called a “stoop.”

The survey showed that, except for a couple of New England states, where the word firefly is the norm, the more east you live the more likely you are to call the bugs lightning bugs and the more west you go the more likely it is that you refer to them as fireflies.

The survey interviewed 5,373 adults from the South, 3,150 from the Midwest, 3,045 from the West, and 2,564 from the Northeast. Because New Jersey is so diverse, we presumably have a good mix of both terms in use.

Which word do you use? Take our poll below!

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi Franco’s own.

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