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Are Fireflies Disappearing?

Are Fireflies Disappearing?

Many of us have great memories of watching and catching fireflies on warm summer nights. Remember sitting out on the patio and watching them light up the back yard? One would call, and another would answer, all via light. But lately, especially here in Maine, you may have noticed the numbers are declining. You’ll maybe see one or two. Are fireflies disappearing? Will the magic they bring to our warm evenings soon be gone 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.

Check out these fascinating facts about fireflies.

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.

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  • sara Roberts says:

    I Live in MO. I just saw one in my yard for the first time in about ten years or so. I stopped using chemicals in the backyard a couple of years ago and put in a small raised garden with native flowers and plants. I also put in a bird bath. It was magical seeing the firefly tonight.

  • Mary tudbull says:

    I’ve been noticing fewer fireflys for years. 30 years ago they would light up the night. Now, if I see one or two it’s a big deal.

  • Colin Henshaw says:

    Light pollution is a major environmental threat that is grossly under-estimated. We need a universal culture-change in our attitudes as to how we use light at night. The technology is available to enable responsible deployment of light at night, so every effort must be made to take advantage of this.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Colin, we have a good article on it that you might be interested in: Light Pollution: Are you a culprit?

    • Colin Henshaw says:

      Excellent.

    • Melissa Reynolds says:

      We moved from upstate NY outside of Albany 15 years ago to the Eastern Shore of VA (between the Chesapeake & the Atlantic). It’s VERY rural here & our night skies are pitch…miraculous stars…but sadly, nary a firefly.
      We have a brackish pond, 4 bird baths & we just put in a fountain. We have rotting logs everywhere in the woods surrounding our neighborhood. It would seem we have a perfect environment fir fireflies but we very seldom see them. 🙁

    • Colin Henshaw says:

      Their distribution may well be very localised. Also their larvæ like to eat slugs, snails and soft bodied insects. If these are lacking in the local environment, then maybe the populations will not thrive.

  • Daryl says:

    I’m actually seeing more this summer than I’ve seen in a long time. Just had 1 in the house. Saw quite a few last week at a friends house. No where near the numbers I remember as a kid tho

  • Jayne Wheelin says:

    I live in cocoa Florida I haven’t seen any for a couple of years I used to see a lot 😢

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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