See any fireflies this summer? I miss their twinkling lights. I miss those rivers of fireflies cascading through our yard, our laughter filling the night air as we chased after the lightening bugs, trying to trap them in mason jars. (Yes, I know that was wrong, but that’s not why they’re disappearing.)
Many of the 2,000 firefly species are dwindling worldwide—like bees, butterflies & other insects. Firefly decline is mostly attributed to urbanization. Our use of pesticides, artificial lighting and the destruction of firefly habitat are likely culprits, although scientists aren’t exactly sure. Fireflies — or lightning bugs — thrive in meadows, woods, and along bodies of water where chemicals tend to linger.
What creates that magical firefly luminescence? Fireflies light up when the insect adds oxygen to what’s already in its abdomen—calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the chemical luciferin plus luciferase, a bioluminescent enzyme. Fireflies use their bioluminescence to communicate with one another, to find mates, keep interlopers away and establish territory.
How can you encourage fireflies in your back yard?
• Avoiding the use of chemicals.
• Leaving worms, snails, and slugs for firefly larvae to feed on.
• Turn off the lights.
• Provide ground cover, grasses and shrubs for them to lurk about in.