5 Ways You Can Help Save the Fireflies

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If you live in a part of the world where fireflies (or lightning bugs) are a thing, you likely look forward to their arrival every summer. You can’t wait to share the fun of seeing them and catching them with your kids, and no matter how old you get, their appearance delights you.

There’s some bad news, though, if you haven’t heard – experts are worried about the very real possibility that they may go extinct.


No one is a hundred percent sure why this is happening – and the data does show a definitive decline.

One theory is that their habitat is disappearing. 

Most fireflies thrive in environments rich in rotting wood and forest litter, with small water sources nearby. They’re part of the beetle family, which means they enjoy warm, humid environments near ponds and streams, or even a shallow dip in the ground that holds water for a few days.


According to the website Firefly Conservation & Research, run by a master naturalist and researcher,

“…Our open fields and forests are being paved over, and our waterways are seeing more development and noisy boat traffic. As their habitat disappears under housing and commercial developments, numbers dwindle.”

Firefly populations also deal with logging, pollution, and pesticides that threaten their prey and habitats, but most experts believe the second biggest threat to their existence is light pollution.


Fireflies use their lights to communicate and to find a mate, but when car headlights flash, or there are too many homes, streetlights, or storefronts are nearby, their flashes get out of sync and result in no mating taking place.

They also use their flashes to warn others, and other sources of light invading their spaces mean some might not be able to evade predators in time.


If you want to help them navigate this brave new world, here are 5 things you can do.

1. Turn off your outside lights.

This could help the insects in your yard find a mate, and more babies next summer is good for everyone.

2. Plant some native trees.

The lightning bug larva grow in rotten logs and forest litter, so don’t be too quick to clean up what’s beneath the trees, either.

3. Make sure to include a water feature or two.

They thrive around standing water, eating grubs, snails, and other small insects – and the birds will love the water, too.

4. Don’t treat your yard with chemicals.

Look for natural options, especially when it comes to lawn fertilizers.

5. Don’t over-mow.

Your grass is where most fireflies hang out during the day, so frequent mowing causes trouble. If you can keep an area with naturally long, native grasses, more the better!

There you go! These are pretty easy to incorporate into our landscaping, so I’m definitely in.

Let’s all help the fireflies and lightning bugs stay around for generations to come, okay?