Are Fireflies Disappearing?image preview

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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Robert
Robert
1 month ago

I live in savannah ga. there use to be fireflies all over the place down here until they started spraying for mosquitoes and I think the mosquito spray has killed off all of them cuz I haven’t seen none for a long time that’s been years down here

RUSTYN HOLP
RUSTYN HOLP
1 month ago

I don’t see any fireflies around here anymore. I really can’t remember the last time I saw one. 30 years ago when I was a kid they were everywhere. I don’t like insects generally but I love these bugs! Such a shame they are disappearing. Now we have stink bugs. Horrible!!! I want the fireflies back!!!!!!

Paula
Paula
3 months ago

Mine literally disappeared this year. We moved to our current house 5 years ago and never noticed any differences…until this year…gone. Yet, my daughters best friend 5 miles down the road still has them.

Our cicadas are out this year, complete with cicada killers. I’d rather have the fireflies.

Paula
Paula
3 months ago
Reply to  Paula

Sorry…northern Delaware

Bill Vanderwesten
Bill Vanderwesten
3 months ago

Definitely a devastating decline in 2020. In Greenville S.C. outside of the city i have only counted 5 this year while i sit on the porch at dusk till the moon rises. I fear if this is not addressed our children and generations to come will suffer the loss of the species. A world without magic ….how sad.

Loretta Sawaski
Loretta Sawaski
4 months ago

Yes, we’re definitely seeing a LOT less fireflies in Indiana than when I was a kid. 50 years ago, my brother & I spent MANY a summer’s eve. catching & releasing them! We still see SOME and, though my daughter has outgrown the thrill, our cat LOVES to chase them!!

Erik Wilson
Erik Wilson
4 months ago

So 20 years ago we saw more firefly. We were using worst pesticides and more of them because te was more ground being farmed. People were still raking leaves and mowing grass and clearing dead timber. The real culprit must be development.

Bonnie
Bonnie
4 months ago

I still see fireflies by my house. I do have a small flower garden, and we have a woodpile. Hopefully that’s what is keeping them around

Bonnie
Bonnie
4 months ago

We do have fireflies in Walker Michigan. I’ve been noticing that maybe not as many, but they are still around. They still make me smile

LeAnn Ayres (Alabama)
LeAnn Ayres (Alabama)
4 months ago

I actually just mentioned to my bestfriend last night that I haven’t seen very many “lightning bugs” as we call them in the south at all and I’m saddened by this.

Racergrl15
Racergrl15
4 months ago

I live in Delaware / Maryland area and have only seen 1 individual lightning bug in the last 2 years. When I was a child and growing up I remember them lighting up every night.and they were always everywhere, it was really beautiful. My son only has a chance to see that on a YouTube video. He had no idea what they even were and he is 8.

Renee
Renee
4 months ago

Since becoming a beekeeper 4 years ago I do not use any chemicals in my yard. I have noticed many more fireflies this year!!! I have many native flower beds, and 2 acres of clover. Also I keep my shallow pans of water with rocks in for the bees to drink around my property!

Suzanne
Suzanne
4 months ago

I have diffently noticed there are less lighting bugs also walking sticks and caterpillars. I do believe it is from alot of ways we do our lawns now.

Jamie
Jamie
4 months ago

I’m in Cincinnati Ohio and i literally have asked…where’s are the lightning bugs at? I live by a creek and small patch of woods in an apartment and they use to light up the dusky on set of night. But I noticed at least last summer they weren’t there. Not like before. The show they put on was fabulous! It breaks my heart. Can their eggs survive floods? It has been flooding back when it rains here. Is there something I can do to my balcony for them? Thank u for this.

Ellen Robison
Ellen Robison
4 months ago

Northern, MI…Fireflies are scarce. I watched a couple in my front yard last week until they disappeared from sight 🙁

Wendy Hardin
Wendy Hardin
4 months ago

I live in Alabama and the fireflies are sparse this year.

sara Roberts
sara Roberts
5 months ago

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
Mary tudbull
5 months ago

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
Colin Henshaw
5 months ago

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.

Colin Henshaw
Colin Henshaw
5 months ago
Reply to  Susan Higgins

Excellent.

Melissa Reynolds
Melissa Reynolds
5 months ago
Reply to  Colin Henshaw

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
Colin Henshaw
5 months ago

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
Daryl
5 months ago

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
Jayne Wheelin
5 months ago

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

Cathy Jo
Cathy Jo
5 months ago

I don’t see as many as I did as a child, but I did live in the country. I live in a neighborhood now, but have woods right beside me. I miss seeing them as they bring back good memories!

D.B. Corey
D.B. Corey
5 months ago

Occurred to me just last night how I don’t see as many, if any. Remembered my childhood summers and lamented their disappearance.

Jeanne LeBlanc
Jeanne LeBlanc
5 months ago

I live in Dieppe N.B. Canada. Tonight June 20 I’m seeing a lightshow of fireflies from my balcony. We live across from a marsh with a lot of wildlife and insects. It’s been years since I’ve seen so many. Love watching them!

Annie
Annie
5 months ago

Where I live there are plenty of firefly’s,I explained to my husband if you mow everything down you are destroying many animal habitats. He listened and sees the difference in our area and the nearest neighbor,who has manicured lawns. We have many little animals and some large ones too!

Peggy Duncan
Peggy Duncan
5 months ago

I live in Western NC. I have a firefly oasis here in my neighborhood. I have a 1/4acre wildflower meadow I am planting and lots of gardens. Leaves here are left to rot in place and fireflies must like it as there are a ton of them just right here!

Marian kujtan
Marian kujtan
5 months ago

Our cottage is near Minden, in Ontario. I was up there two weeks ago, it was a very warm night, and there were tons of fireflies, I haven’t seen them for a couple of years. Our property is very isolated, and mostly large fir trees with maple and birch. I think they prefer warm nights, to shine their lights!

Jennifer
Jennifer
5 months ago

We have definitely noticed way less in the most northwest corner of NJ. Thanks for the great tips to help.

Erica
Erica
5 months ago

I live in central VT, and while we still have them, it does seem like there’s not as many as usual. We love watching them, and my daughter has been out a couple evenings this past week to try and catch som (don’t worry, she releases them after!) 🙂

Barbara
Barbara
5 months ago

I live in central NYS and have only seen a couple this season so far. In the past, I think we’ve seen many more in July but only for a few weeks at most. I love them!

Cindy Read
Cindy Read
5 months ago

I live in Eastern NC area. Most nights I don’t see any fireflies, but every now and then I’ll see a couple here and there just flying around! I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t many any more. Thanks for the info!

Mary Killewald
Mary Killewald
5 months ago

We put all our leaves in a spot in our yard and then take the leaves and mix them in our garden plots. We have a new LED street light in front of our house that makes it seem it is daylight all night. You can’t even look at it, it is so bright.

Pauline
Pauline
5 months ago

I have noticed that here in central Wisconsin in my back yard they are greatly reduced. We live with woods all around us and don’t spray pesticides. Also have a garden, tons of logs and leaves all around us. Most of the neighbors do spray for mosquitoes and their lawns with weed and feed but there is an acre or two between houses. So sad, our kids used to catch them and they twinkled into the night.

Leslie Bennett
Leslie Bennett
5 months ago

My small rural city installed all LED street lights this past fall and so did the senior housing behind me. My once serene firefly haven of a backyard is now basically so well lit, I can practically read a book

Sandy Coffey
Sandy Coffey
5 months ago

I only saw one tonight. Have noticed the decline each year

A Sun
A Sun
5 months ago

I saw quite a few fireflies at dusk June 10, 2020 at my small apt complex. There’s a park and creek across the street. I work at a home improvement store and am aghast at the amount of chemicals for yards and gardens that we sell. It’s a wonder there is anything left of nature.

Pecanderosa Farm
Pecanderosa Farm
5 months ago

I’ve noticed more this year than ever.

Helen
Helen
5 months ago

We have noticed for a few years now fewer and fewer “lightening bugs”~ as I knew then growing up in OK. We are tobacco farmers ~ saddens me think we have contributed to their demise! They still can light up my night! Love them!

Beth G
Beth G
5 months ago

Seeing fewer and later in the month of June than we used to. We do not use fertilizer like our neighbors despite their eye rolls. Mow less and keep the lawn watered. We live across the street from a park which use to be a firefly mecca, but no more! Hotter summers to blame?

John
John
5 months ago

In early July, our dense, verdant corn fields are luminous with “lightning bugs”, the “official” name for them in Iowa.

Peg
Peg
5 months ago

Seeing less this summer in Lexington, KY…

Kalli
Kalli
5 months ago

The fireflies love fields, unfortunately most fields are disappearing. Danby lots of fireflies, Van Etten less fireflies, in New York.

LInda Tainowitz
LInda Tainowitz
5 months ago

I’ve been bemoaning this for years!! Little is sadder than losing our magical fireflies. I’m in N.GA.

Judy
Judy
5 months ago

I live in Austin TX and I have noticed a decline in the firefly population. A couple of years ago, I would see them all summer long. Last year, I saw none. This year, I’m seeing a few, but not nearly as B many as in years past. I follow all the suggestions to encourage fireflies in my yard. I do enjoy them and hope their population increases.

Dee Warf
Dee Warf
5 months ago

Yes I have notice we don’t have near as many, thanks for the tips. My husband will never give up the garden lights.

Glenda
Glenda
5 months ago

In Vale NC they have greatly diminished

Jon Padgett
Jon Padgett
5 months ago

Fireflies in my town in Minnesota are decreasing.

Amanda
Amanda
5 months ago

The city sprays for mosquitoes in the summertime, likely killing off the fireflies as well. I rarely see them here in Fort Smith, AR.

Mark
Mark
5 months ago

My home is near Matthews, NC. We live close to a creek with forest surrounding us. Fireflies have been very consistent in the 8 years I have been here (late May/early Spring). They love to gather on a few trees near the creek right before it gets real dark and put on a show! Our family looks forward to it each year and I love the memories it will create!

Kathryn
Kathryn
5 months ago

I see fewer both at my suburban home in NY and my rural “ farm” in VT

Hannu
Hannu
5 months ago

I live in SE Pennsylvania. I look around at the neighbors yards I can see and there are very few lightening bugs. I look in my yard and believe that I am supplying the lightening bugs to the neighbors. I have been organically maintaining my yard, I have places where I leave logs to hard to split for my woodstove so they can rot and provide nutrients to the soil. I never pick up my leaves, but leave them to feed the ground. My neighbors don’t like my yard. Wildlife loves it. I like wildlife more than neighbors.

Julie
Julie
5 months ago
Reply to  Hannu

Wish we were neighbors! I live in Illinois and my neighbors kill everything with tons of pestisides. There are no bugs left at all where I live but maybe a moth or two. The earth needs more people like you. You’re amazing