There is a special kind of magic that you feel when you watch fireflies light up your yard on a summer night. Everyone loves to watch their twinkling lights and be inspired by this amazing natural display. For many, it’s an experience that takes them back to childhood, when firefly lights held so much mystery and joy. Fond memories of trying to capture the bugs in a jar is an almost universal experience. Around the world, there are about 2000 species of fireflies, which are also sometimes referred to as lightning bugs or lightning beetles.
It would be great if we could simply invite fireflies over to spend a summer evening with us, but communicating with these critters is pretty complex. Luckily, it’s not very complicated to make your yard more inviting for fireflies. Hopefully, these tips help increase your chances of seeing these enchanting bugs more often.
What You’ll Need
- Bird bath
- Large stones
- Small flashlight, like a pen-light
- Firewood or other sticks/branches/logs
- Tall fence or trellis
Step 1- Don’t clean up your yard
Although charming and much more popular than some of their relatives, fireflies are in fact still bugs. More specifically, they are beetles and are naturally found in grassy habitats. If you want to attract them into your yard, you will want to make it mimic their natural habitat. Lucky for you, this will probably mean less yardwork than usual. Letting your grass grow long in areas of your yard will give fireflies a place to be protected. Consider leaving slugs and snails if they’re not harming your plants since they are a favorite meal of fireflies. If you do have garden pests you need to get rid of, be careful which pesticides you use as they might harm fireflies and other beneficial insects.
Step 2- Add extra habitat
Leaving your yard a little messy is an easy way to attract fireflies, but there is more you can do to help make your yard a firefly hotspot. Fireflies naturally live near water sources so adding a water feature to your yard is a great way to entice them. A still and shallow water feature is a simple and effective choice, but can still be difficult for bugs like fireflies to access without falling in and drowning. Adding large stones to your bird bath will allow fireflies, and other bugs like bees, to access the water safely. Another way to add habitat is to have a pile of stacked wood. If you have a backyard firepit you probably already have this. If you don’t, stack some logs, branches, or sticks in a corner of your yard. This will give fireflies a place to hunt, take shelter and lay eggs.
Step 3- Block out light pollution
Fireflies use light to communicate with one another. Typically when we see their beautiful displays they are males and females that are trying to find mates. The better fireflies are able to communicate and locate mates in an area, the more likely they are to keep hanging out there. Try to minimize the light in your yard when you want to watch fireflies. Make sure bright porchlights, indoor lights, and even small light sources, like string lights, are turned off. You can go even further by blocking out excess light that might come from neighbors or passing cars. Adding a tall fence, or a trellis, to your yard is a great way to block out unwanted extra light.
Step 4- Flash like a firefly
The last thing you should do when trying to attract fireflies to your yard is act like a firefly! Since these bugs use their lights to communicate, you can try to mimic them and hopefully send the message that your yard is a great place to visit. Using a small flashlight, like a pen light or a keychain light, mimic the flashes that you see fireflies making. Different species will use different patterns so copying how the fireflies in your area flash are going to have the best results.
Attracting fireflies to your yard is fun for people of all ages. You get to enjoy their lights and even receive added benefits, like help controlling unwanted pests. Learning about these bugs and the cool ways you can help bring them to your garden is a great way to appreciate nature and spend time in your yard as a family.