7 Brilliant Ways to Attract Fireflies to Your Yard
These simple tips can help make your yard a lightning bug-friendly zone.
Fireflies, which are actually a type of beetle, are unique creatures. Also called lightning bugs, these insects are most active in the summer months and are easily recognized by the flickering light their bodies emit. Luciferin, an organic compound found in a firefly’s abdomen, undergoes a chemical reaction with the air that enters the abdomen. This results in the flickering glow that can light up the summer night.
If there aren’t many fireflies in your yard and you’d like to change that, there are a few things you can do to draw them to your property. Read on to identify some of the top ways to attract fireflies to your yard so you can enjoy their soft glow this summer.
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1. Allow the grass to grow.
Letting the grass grow a bit longer can help increase the number of fireflies in your yard, as they like taller grasses or shrubs. During the day, you can often find them hanging out on the blades of taller grass. If you mow your grass too frequently or cut it too short, it can discourage these glowing insects from hanging around.
If you like having a short lawn, or are worried about ticks, consider planting taller ornamental grasses along the perimeter of your yard. Fountain grass or pampas grass, for example, can help attract fireflies when planted in select locations, and you won’t need to worry about your entire lawn looking overgrown.
2. Provide ample food.
Food is always important when you’re trying to create a welcoming environment for any creature. So, what do fireflies eat? Fireflies get their food from two main sources: small garden pests and pollen and nectar from plants.
Lightning bugs enjoy worms, slugs, snails, grubs, and other small pests found in the garden. If you are looking to encourage fireflies to visit your yard, don’t take excessive measures to keep these pests out of the garden. You can also add flowering plants to your yard to attract fireflies. Fireflies might stop by and even stick around if they find a large source of flowers offering pollen and nectar for them to drink.
3. Add a water feature.
Where do fireflies live? Fireflies can be found in many temperate zones across North America and around the world. However, one common feature found in the areas where fireflies gather is water. They like to be near standing water or areas where the moisture content is high.
Adding a water feature like a fountain or a pond can help bring more fireflies to your yard. However, if you live in a climate where mosquitoes are a concern, you should weigh whether attracting fireflies with standing water is worth the trade-off of also attracting more mosquitoes, which could potentially carry diseases.
4. Turn off outdoor lights.
If it’s already well into the summer, and you’re still wondering, “When do fireflies come out?” it may well be that they’re staying away from your yard because it isn’t dark enough. These insects prefer darker areas, where they’ll more easily be able to see the lights of other fireflies. If you have too many exterior lights on, such as porch lights or solar lights that illuminate landscaping features, try turning them off to potentially attract more lightning bugs.
Keeping your home’s blinds and curtains closed can also help prevent interior light from deterring firefly visits. Additionally, if your home is on a busy street with lots of car headlights passing by, you might want to install a privacy fence or plant some tall bushes to block some of the excess light.
5. Plant native pine trees.
Local tree species, particularly native pine trees, can help bring more fireflies to your yard. Native pine trees have a very thick canopy that keeps outside light from getting through the branches. This creates an ideal gathering spot for fireflies, where they’ll be able to clearly see each other’s lights. When pine tree needles drop to the ground, this can also create an ideal nest where a female firefly bug can lay her eggs.
6. Pile up some wood.
Stocking up on firewood for your home may also help you get more visits from local fireflies. Some fireflies look for rotted wood when laying their eggs, and firefly larvae will feast on the snails, worms, and slugs often found in wood piles.
If you don’t have firewood, or don’t like how a wood pile looks in your landscape, you can also leave a few piles of sticks in various spots around the yard. These can similarly encourage more fireflies to hang around.
7. Don’t use chemical pesticides.
Avoiding the use of chemical pesticides is one way you can be a good neighbor to backyard wildlife, including fireflies. Chemical pesticides can be harmful to firefly larvae as they develop in leaf piles or underground. These poisonous substances can also be dangerous for adult fireflies, which can ingest or make contact with pesticides on grass or other plants.
Instead of using dangerous chemicals, find safer ways to keep pests out of your yard. A few options include pulling weeds before they have a chance to grow, removing harmful critters manually, or choosing a safer plant-based pesticide.