Every year in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala — about 2 hours out of Mexico City — hundreds of thousands of fireflies begin their mating dance in the pine forests. The fireflies (which are actually beetles) are endemic to these forests, and found nowhere else on earth. They live as larva for 20 months before emerging for around one month, from late June to early August. The light show is so consistent you can set your watch by it — the best viewing times are from about 8:30 to 9:30.

These pine tree forests have a special climate which make a perfect home for the fireflies, scientifically known as Macrolampis palaciosi. The forests are at 3000m above sea level and it rains a lot, making the environment very humid and always wet.

How to get there

From Mexico City, it’s a two-hour drive east to the municipality of Nanacamilpa. There are a few local businesses that offer the firefly viewing experience. Mike Corey, who shot the video below, stayed with eco lodge Piedra Canteada.

What you should consider

– It’s a protected area covering 632 hectares; only 20 of those are authorized for tourist activities.
– There is no cell service.
– To keep light pollution at a minimum and to not disturb the fireflies, lights may be turned off and you cannot use flashlights or flash on your camera. Be prepared to walk in total darkness.
– Stay with your group and do not leave the path.
– Be as quiet as possible.