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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? 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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  • James Patterson says:

    I live in northern Wisconsin and they seem to be disappearing. Lots of mosquito control going on around us.

  • Terri says:

    I live in Southern North Carolina in a rural area on a farm. My home is in a wooded area with an environment suitable for fireflies. I see a fair amount showing off their magnificent lights at night. I enjoy watching them. Takes me back to my childhood.

  • Kate says:

    I live in SE Minnesota, and have seen more lightening bugs this year than ever before. As a kid we caught them and put grass and a little water in a quart jar and watched them. Fond memories!

  • Kiyle says:

    I live in NW PA along Lake Erie and they are almost gone. We had plenty about five years ago, but we only saw five or six so far this year, few enough to count. It’s really sad.

  • Yvonne Riggs says:

    Northwest Florida in the 60s. As a child I enjoyed fireflies at desk and into the night. I never see any now I talked about it a lot. So many things have disappeared, sand fleas, Sea oats, silver dollars…. And the list goes on.

  • Winnie reed says:

    I live in Central New Jersey. The fireflies this year are so many , at dusk it’s like a twinkling blanket rising up from the lawn. I don’t use pesticides or weed killer. Mow the lawn high and have many flower gardens. My neighbors have lawns sprayed for weeds and don’t have fireflies.

  • Jessica says:

    I live in Corydon, Indiana. My son and I live in “town” in an apartment and there aren’t that many lightning bugs. But we were able to plant a flower pot garden and the bugs seem to like it! The rest of the county is pretty rural, especially where my parents live and there’s still tons out in the fields.

  • Julie says:

    We have a lot of them here at my house. We do most of the above mentioned. At night it looks like little magical fireworks.

  • Sherry says:

    Southeast Michigan. 4+ acres mostly wooded. Tons of fireflies. Absolutely beautiful in the front and backyard, but my son insisted I take a walk into the woods with him late one night and it was magical! We came into a clearing and it was like I was in a fairy dream. The whole world was glittering like diamonds. I’ll never forget that special moment with him. ❤️

  • Nikki says:

    We have a ton of lighten bug / fireflies here in Kansas and my grandchildren love them

  • Anita says:

    We live in North Georgia and have had a ton of fireflies this summer. We do have most of the criteria mentioned on 35 Acres, River, gardens etc. We love sitting on the porch at night, no lights and just taking in the memories. I nearly like them as much as the whippoorwill!!

  • Carolann says:

    I am in Jackson , NJ and I am happy to report that I enjoy a nightly show of lightning bugs. I believe there are more this year than last. I would love to put the “show” to music!

  • Lanette says:

    Northern Ohio has a lot here

  • Jan Pratt says:

    I live in northern Illinois and I have a lot of fire flies this yr. But I have everything they need I guess after reading the article. I Love watching them.

  • Jeanne says:

    I live in NE Pennsylvania. I’ve noticed very few lightning bugs these last few years, and I pay attention to this. Why? As long as I can remember, I’ve caught a lightning bug each summer–my own personal tradition. I’ve even told my husband he’ll have to wheel me outside to do this when I get to the point I can’t get outside myself. Well last year he caught one for me and this year one got trapped in the house somehow. We live in the country where you’d think they’d still flourish. It’s a sad situation, both personally and environmentally.

  • Linda says:

    I live in East Tennessee. See many more than last year. I planted a garden, have a goldfish pond and lots of tree brush in ghe6 back of our yard by a gully. Last year saw very few, this year so,many more. love them.

  • Deb says:

    We have a nice light show quite often more than last year. Organic soil no removal of leaf litter. No pesticides 2 Garden beds plus flowers and fruiting shrubs. Rainwater as much as possible. Tap water we let sit out before using to get rid of some of the chemicals in them (like bleach)before using. Hope we are helping firefly population grow.

  • NN says:

    I live in southeast lower peninsula of Michigan. For the last 8 years the fireflies have been around. I think it is because I have ideal conditions. Very damp situation in my back yard. I live in a suburb. Only occasionally use fertilizer with weed killer on my lawn. Otherwise no pesticides. Just love the little guys. They are quite abundant on family property about 1-1/2 hours north of me. Not developed and again, no chemicals are used and it has wet conditions.

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