Fireflies, also commonly known as lightning bugs, are found in many parts of the world. They usually come out at night in dimly lit or dark places, and you can see a warm glow at the back of their bodies.
They are simply defined as soft-bodied beetles and are known as fireflies because of the bioluminescence they emit to attract mates or prey. Fireflies can be seen swarming around a tree on a night, or on a lucky night, you might even find them around your yard.
The light produced by the fireflies is defined as “cold,” because it does not fall within UV or infrared frequencies. The color of the light varies dramatically based on the type of firefly, but the most common type of firefly you are going to see usually emits a yellow or an orange glow.
Some people have even reported seeing fireflies that emit a blue glow, though it is quite rare. With more than 2,000 different species of the firefly, the color can vary quite a bit.
Fireflies don’t really bite, and it’s also important to note that they do not all have a similar shape, size, or form. In fact, most types of fireflies usually have different features, such as antennae, color, or shape.
Some might be bigger or smaller as well. In fact, an adult firefly can grow all the way up to an inch long.
On days when fireflies take over a garden or a field, you will notice yellow lights protruding from between the plants. It is a gorgeous sight, and many people look for ways to attract these lightning bugs to their garden or yard.
After all, who doesn’t want nature’s very own light show in their own backyard or garden?
Unfortunately, attracting fireflies is not going to be easy. Most people don’t know much about how to attract them, and only ever see one or two fireflies fly by their yard.
However, if you want a proper light show every night, you will want to employ a variety of strategies to attract these guys permanently to your yard. But first, here are some important things that you should know about them.
They Are Nocturnal Insects
First of all, you need to know that these are nocturnal insects. Even though they are regarded as a “fly,” they are actually beetles with wings.
The light they produce is simply due to a chemical reaction in their bodies, designed to signal to other members of the opposite sex. At times, you will also notice these flies “blinking,” and at times, you might even see them do it in unison.
Many people find it a lot of fun to catch these beetles in small, transparent jars. While that is definitely a fun hobby, it’s better if you can attract them to your yard or garden all together. That way, you can have a beautiful natural light show every night in your garden.
But, how do you attract fireflies to your garden? There are a number of simple, yet effective ways that you can use to bring these beautiful beetles to your garden. Here are a few.
1 – Stop Using Chemical Fertilizers
The first thing you need to understand about these insects is that they are attracted to natural environments. If you commonly spray pesticide or chemical fertilizer in your garden, you don’t stand a chance of attracting these fireflies in there.
Instead, you should completely stop using the chemical fertilizer or pesticides in your garden at once. Even if you release a bunch of fireflies in your garden after trapping them from different sources it won’t be long before they fly away if you use artificial substances.
In their larvae form, fireflies are quite susceptible to pesticides, and are likely to die. They usually lay eggs on the ground, or sometimes, under it.
Therefore, the pesticide may prove to be quite harmful to them. Their larvae usually feed on a variety of common garden pests, such as snails, slugs, and various other insects.
When you apply pesticides, not only does it kill these insects, but it also kills the larvae. So, what can you do?
To control a pest infestation, you should consider using natural methods instead. This way, the pest population in your garden will remain under control.
2 – Maintain Moisture in the Soil
One very important thing that you need to know is that fireflies are attracted to moisture. If your yard is dry most of the day, it’s really not going to bode well for the fireflies.
That is why you will want to make sure that you water your yard regularly and keep the soil, and the plants, well-watered.
During the summer months when the garden is hot and dry, you will want to make sure that you water it as much as possible. Not only that, but one of the best things that you can do is to add a few pieces of damp, dead wood in isolated areas of the yard.
Fireflies usually try to rest in shaded areas, and need adequate protection. If you are able to provide cover using moist wood, it’s going to give them an excellent place to rest.
3 – Let the Grass Grow
This might not sit well with a few people, but you have to make sure that you let the grass grow as much as possible. If you take a look at pictures of fireflies in their natural habitat, you will realize that they usually prefer shrubbery and tall grass.
Most people like to keep their lawn properly mowed and clean. However, this does not make for an ideal habitat for fireflies.
In fact, the National Gardening Association has recommended that you let the perimeter of your garden grow as wild as you can to create the conditions needed to attract fireflies. If you mow your lawn at least once in a month, you need to do it less frequently.
An important thing that you need to know about these insects is that during the day time, they rest on tall blades of grass. If you continue mowing down the lawn regularly, you are effectively asking them to move away from your garden.
4 – Add in a Water Feature
This might seem like an overkill, but if you really want to attract fireflies in your garden, you should consider adding in a water feature.
It’s already been mentioned that fireflies love moisture, so adding in a water feature, such as a pond, is an excellent idea. They also prefer congregating around tiny puddles in the garden.
During the mating season, having a water feature in your garden is really going to attract quite a few fireflies. Some might even start to call your garden home. It’s a fun DIY project that you can undertake and it’s also going to improve the aesthetic appeal of your place.
If you don’t have to worry about mosquitoes in your area, then adding a water feature is a great idea. However, if mosquitoes are a constant nuisance, you will need to use some natural repellents and add wire mesh to your windows to get rid of them.
5 – Turn Off Artificial Light
Most people leave their porch lights on during the night. Here’s one another thing that you should know about these insects: they usually glow for two reasons. The first is a sort of warning to predators to stay away, because they carry toxic blood.
Secondly, because they want to attract a mate. However, if you have an outdoor light turned on, it’s going to diminish the distinctive light pattern being created by the male firefly.
Needless to say, they are going to move away to look for a darker spot. You need to keep that porch light turned off at all times in the night if you really want to attract fireflies.
6 – Plant a Few Pine Trees
Pine trees in your garden are a great idea. Not only do they provide a lot of cover, but they also have beautiful leaves.
One of the biggest threats facing fireflies nowadays is a loss of habitat. Due to rampant deforestation and damage to their environments, the overall population of fireflies is declining rapidly.
If you can, plant some pine trees. The thick canopy in the pine tree leaves are ideal because they help prevent artificial light beams from penetrating through, and more importantly, there are tiny needles protruding from the leaves, where the larvae is capable of sticking and maturing.
7 – Avoid Meddling in the Garden
More importantly, you need to make sure that you avoid walking through the garden on a regular basis. In the night, you will see these fireflies glowing slowly from a distance, and that’s when you know you have to stay away.
If you walk by them, they are probably going to fly away. If they see you disturbing their peace regularly, they are simply going to move away altogether. Just keep your distance, and watch how the magic happens!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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