I remember when I was a kid running in the yard at night and catching fireflies (or lightning bugs as we called them) with my friends.  The valley when I was young was absolutely full of them in the summertime.  Both my mom and my brother still live in that area, and over the past years it seemed to me the firefly population was all but gone. Recently I learned I was most likely right, but the good news is we can help them to repopulate.

Of course, the first step in helping is understanding why they are on decline. Ben Pfeiffer from firefly.org cites "a variety of reasons why fireflies are disappearing across the United States, and it is kind of multi-faceted."

One of the culprits? Too many bright outdoor lights that mess with their mating habits.  Another? Using too much pesticide on your lawn or garden.

So what can we do to help? According to Firefly.org’s Dr. Pfeiffer providing a leafy habitat and striving for better ground water quality can really help. He goes on to say:

"Fireflies are habitat-dependent and habitat-specific. So when you change the habitat, that can have really bad consequences for the firefly population. Some can just up and disappear. Habitat disturbances affect fireflies pretty considerably, mainly for the locally-adapted species. Species that you will find in waterways that are locally-adapted to just that little area and when you wipe it out, they are not able to recover."

The site goes on to say that some of the easy things we can do to encourage them to dwell and breed in your yard are

  • Keep your yard dark at night by turning off outside lights
  • Plant some trees and let logs rot in your yard.
  • Put a fountain or waterfall in in your garden
  • Learn how to garden and care for your lawn without chemicals.