As I sit on the back yard deck during a warm evening, the true meaning of summer in June are the gently moving lights in mid-air. I have not seen them yet. I really need to pay determined attention to the surrounding foliage and the stream that runs behind the property among the trees.
As a child, I did not have to wait for them to show up…they were everywhere. I was not mesmerized by their light show but more excited about collecting them as pets. Quietly, I would move to the light that seemed to be blinking on a leaf, off, as soon as I get close, on, and as they began to fly. I would cup one with both hands.
They don’t bite, they have no pincers, they don’t attack, they don’t carry disease, they are not poisonous, they don’t even fly very fast. That is why you can catch them in your hands and carefully place them in a glass jar with grass and maybe food. After collecting a whole bunch, you screw on the metal lid and keep them safe until morning. Mine usually didn’t last that long.
According to research and fireflies.org, fireflies are disappearing from marshes, fields and forests all over the country—and all over the world. Nobody knows for sure. But most researchers blame two main factors: development and light pollution. Fields and forests paved over have caused the number of fireflies to dwindle. Humans’ way of life have caused the firefly to vanish in many areas. For example,today in our backyards, there is too much light with all the solar lamps added to yards and pathways.
However, there are great tips today on how to still catch fireflies and keep them alive overnight:
- Make sure you turn off any lights outside.
- You should work with a friend and catch them with a net since this causes less damage to their wings.
- Carefully take them from a net into a well-ventilated jar with long grass.
- Add a wet paper towel to the jar. The fireflies should not dry out and will have more air.
- They should last overnight but always release them after just one night.
If you really want to see synchronous fireflies today, thousands are seen during May and early June for about two weeks. This happens at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee which is actually a firefly mating ritual.
What dates you’ll begin to see fireflies in your back yard is somewhat of a mystery and changes from year to year. Generally, there are no fireflies west of Kansas. And I am not sure there are any here in Illinois either.
We have plants, water, flowers, tall grass and many shrubs..perfect for them to thrive. It is a warm and humid night. I sit and wait. I intensely scan…. my focus from left, to right and back again. Did I miss one.????? What kind of fertilizers/pesticides are we using that may have a negative affect on fireflies?
Wow….look at the weeds, I just pulled them a few days ago. Boy, we are certainly not deficient in weed growing.
Where are my lightning bugs?