Not all too long ago, fireflies and summer nights went hand-in-hand. I remember as a child after a long day of playing in the Guadalupe River, the sun would begin to go down and the fireflies would come out, lighting up the night with their fantastic flickering. Like me, I am sure many of you have cherished childhood memories of spotting and catching these captivating creatures. However, I bet my own children have probably only seen fireflies a handful of times. These days, it seems that these lightening bugs are few and far between and it got me to wondering why?
As it turns out, like bees and butterflies, fireflies are also dwindling in numbers. While the exact reason in unknown, it seems that three factors are to blame for the decline in numbers: habitat loss, chemicals/pesticides and light pollution.
Lightning bugs, or fireflies, light up at night by producing a chemical reaction inside of their bodies. This type of light production is called bioluminescence. This chemical reaction is caused by a chemical compound in their abdomens called luciferin.
If you are interested in creating an environment in your own yard where fireflies can flourish, here are a few tips that might help attract these luminescent insects to your yard.
Don’t Mow the Yard so Often
Fireflies are attracted to tall grass. They rest on the tall blades during the day, so mowing often will reduce the number of them in your yard.
Plant Pine Trees
Native Pine Trees create the perfect environment for fireflies to flourish. They mate and lay their eggs in the canopy of the trees and the needles offer a great place for the larvae to grow. They can also offer a safe, dark place for them to rest during the day.
Water is Key
Lightening bugs are especially attracted to warm, humid climates. They find standing water like marshes, ponds and lakes extremely attractive and love the spots where fields and streams come together. That being said, the addition of a water feature to your landscape will go a long way to entice them to your yard.
Turn Off the Landscape and Outdoor Lights
Exterior lighting interferes with the firefly’s glow. Their glow is used to attract mates and to ward off predators. If you provide them with a nice, dark environment they are more likely to thrive.
Other ideas that are helpful in creating a healthy habitat for fireflies include leaving piles of leaf litter around the yard, reducing the use of pesticides, and allowing slugs and snails to live – fireflies love to eat them!
Implementing some of these tips may just set your yard aglow this summer!