If you’re ever walking alone in the woods at night, and you see something that looks like fairy lights or will o’ the wisps, don’t get too excited. Unfortunately, you probably haven’t passed over into a fantasy world full of elves and adventure. Most likely, what you’re seeing is just regular ol’ foxfire fungus.
Even though it’s sometimes called fairy fire, it has nothing to do with tiny, beautiful, flying people. Foxfire fungus is the common name for many fungi that glow in the dark. It’s usually found on rotting wood and emits a blue-green glow using the same chemical reaction that occurs in lightning bugs (fireflies). Normally, it’s pretty dim, but if you’re really lucky, you might see some that’s bright enough to use as a natural reading light.
There are from thirty to forty types of foxfire fungi in the world, and reference to them goes as far back as Aristotle in 382 B.C. They can also be seen in many books, movies, and TV shows from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to TV’s Psych.
Even though, seeing foxfire isn’t an indication that you’ve been transported to a mystical land, it can certainly make you feel like you have. Just don’t go too “Alice in Wonderland” and decide to eat some of it; it will make you very sick.