Do you remember those warm summer nights, when the patio was the perfect spot to catch and watch fireflies lighting up the entire backyard? Their lights sparkled and twinkled in the dark, as they communicated with each other through light signals. But lately, their numbers have been dwindling, especially here in Maine, and you may be lucky to spot even one or two. Is it possible that fireflies are disappearing? Are we in danger of losing the spark of fireflies forever?
Turns out, firefly numbers are decreasing all over the country and all over the world. According to Ben Pfeiffer of Firefly.org, most of us are seeing a decline in numbers of the Big Dipper firefly (Photinus pyralis) due to several factors: light pollution, pesticide use, and loss of habitat from development.
Fireflies are picky about where they live and many are not able to recover when their habitats are destroyed or rearranged. So what can you do to help fireflies make a comeback?
Help Fireflies Make A Comeback
Here are a few things you can do to help fireflies in your area. According to Firefly.org, you can:
- Install water features in your garden.
- Allow logs to rot. Fireflies spend up to 95% of their lives in larval stages. They live in rotting logs, soil/mud/leaf litter and spend from 1-2 years growing until finally pupating to become adults.
- Turn your lights off at night (lights can confuse them when they’re trying to mate).
- Refrain from using lawn chemicals.
- Plant a garden! Gardens are meccas for fireflies, helping to replace lost habitat. They also supply fireflies with lots of food sources. If you have garden snails, slugs, worms, and other insects, fireflies can lend a hand by helping to control these pests. Plus, females need a place to lay eggs and gardens offer an oasis with a source of soil moisture for larval development.
- Plant trees and native grasses.
- Don’t over-mow your lawn.
- Don’t rake leaves and bag them up for the trash. You are raking up firefly larvae and discarding them.
What about where you live? Are you seeing the same number of fireflies as you used to, or are you seeing a decline? Tell us in the comments below.