Among the many highlights of a Michigan summer, fireflies (or lightning bugs) are by far one of the most underrated hallmarks of the warmer months. Simply looking out in the yard and seeing thousands of tiny lights flickering in the grass and trees can be mesmerizing. You might remember running in your yard with a mason jar as a kid, chasing the little specs of light, or playing catch and release. Yet, today you may look around and ask yourself, where did all the fireflies go?

The sad truth is there are fewer fireflies than there used to be. This is due to numerous different factors: pesticides, light pollution, destruction of habitats—and the list goes on. To bring these magical little critters back to your yard, consider taking these simple steps.

  • Keep your grass (somewhat) high. Though fireflies become active at night, during the day these bugs like to hunker down in the tall, damp grass. By cutting your lawn down to a short length, you are removing a possible home for your flashy friends.
  • Don’t disrupt the snail. Firefly larvae is carnivorous. This means they like to eat other bugs in their environment. The larvae especially love slimy insects such as worms, snails, and slugs. By disrupting these types of insects, the firefly would much rather move to another area where there is plenty to eat.
  • Limit the amount of light outside your house during the evening. The main way that fireflies find a mate is through their bioluminescence. In other words, males attract females by emitting their own light. The females then shine a light in response. Fireflies can easily be disrupted by light pollution such as a porch light, flashlights or even a car’s headlights driving by. By limiting your outdoor light as much as possible, you’re ensuring the best environment for the firefly to light up the sky.
  • Provide a water feature. Fireflies love moisture and need water nearby to survive. By building a man-made pond, fountain, or even adding a bird bath to your yard, the standing water will be sure to attract more fireflies to your area.
  • Limit use of insecticides. While insecticides can help get rid of unwanted bugs, these chemicals are not selective as far as what insects they kill. Using insecticides around your home may kill off any fireflies or firefly prey that choose to set up camp in your yard.

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