Thread: Fireflies!
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:45 AM   #8
A Bee's Best Friend
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA

Linrose, thanks for the mention. It is amazing the number of people that have read that particular bit about fireflies.
The best way to get fireflies to reproduce in your garden is to have areas of soil that are rich in decomposing organic matter and moist during spring and early summer while the fireflies are mating and then laying eggs in the soil. Wet prairie to mesic prairie and near wetlands and streams are where the largest populations exist. Home gardens with trees, shrubs and flowerbeds seem to make good homes but no pesticide use especially during mating season. We have been lucky that the summer mosquito sprays have been largely at the end of the mating season after temperatures have been high enough for a few weeks the firefly population becomes mostly soil dwelling as larvae.

Most adult fireflies do not eat at all, a few species the female attacks other species of male to acquire the substance that makes the flashing light. Whatever you grow will work as long as long as it does not mat over the soil. Firefly larvae are the best slug deterrent I have found. As the fireflies increase in our garden the slug numbers have decreased dramatically. Firefly larvae are fierce predators.

The bad news is that fireflies tend to stay in the same area with little movement so if you never see fireflies anywhere (like at the parks or a local pond or stream) it will be hard to impossible to reinstate. The good news is that with the proper habitat even just a few fireflies in your area will reproduce, increasing in number each season.

I have seen many city of Chicago gardens with fireflies each year so urban areas do have fireflies. Our local rainfall amounts and the abundant marshy lands surrounding the Lake and our forest preserves surrounded by open areas has done much to keep the firefly population alive. But we as gardeners can do much to bring back the larger populations that make early summer dusk so enticing for children.
"Half Earth Quest" Edward O. Wilson
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