As I’ve written before, fireflies are in peril. Reference my post entitled Fireflies are Glowing. The Xerces Society sent out an announcement this past week that they were mounting a new firefly conservation campaign: Conserving the Jewels of the Night.
“Fireflies are some of our most celebrated insects. Not only are they important components of natural ecosystems, but also they have immense cultural, biological, and economic value. Despite their significance, firefly populations appear to be in decline….This concern gains greater significance in light of numerous diversity and abundance studies that have emerged in recent years documenting severe population declines in both better-studied insect groups and overall insect biomass. ” (Xerces)
Xerces has developed a wonderful guideline for protecting fireflies in the USA and Canada. It is available on-line in pdf format and it is entitled Conserving the Jewels of the Night. On page 26 it starts talking about “Creating, Restoring, and Protecting High Quality Habitat.”
As we’ve discussed about wildlife many times before, “In general, all fireflies require four basic things: food, shelter, moisture, and protection from pesticides*. Individual species will have more specific habitat or food requirements, but by keeping these requirements in mind, you can easily provide for fireflies in your yard, park, or natural area. In particular, most fireflies need:
- abundant larval food sources, including soft-bodied invertebrates such as snails, slugs, and earthworms;
- safe places to overwinter, including trees, leaf litter, and underground burrows;
- clean sources of water or moisture so larvae and their prey do not desiccate;
- protection from pesticides—especially insecticides;
- undisturbed ground for burrowing larvae and flightless adult females;
- native vegetation of varying heights (so that adults have places to perch or take shelter); and
- dark nights, for dusk- and night-active species that use bioluminescent light signals to communicate and mate.
Some species also need:
- food sources for species that feed as adults, including tree sap, flower nectar, and other fireflies (e.g., Photuris females often eat other species of fireflies, such as those in the Photinus genus), and
- healthy populations of ant associates for larval and adult female Pleotomodes and Prolutacea species that live in ant nests.” (Conserving the Jewels of the Night)
These are the things we Wild Ones and other native landscaping enthusiasts talk about almost every day, because these things are important for maintaining a healthy ecosystem – a healthy habitat – especially the part about native vegetation. So let’s keep talking and we’ll help The Xerces Society with its new firefly conservation campaign: Conserving the Jewels of the Night.
*The conservation section of the Hunter Education class materials also includes space.
I found a new Dance of the Fireflies video. It’s the music from Tangled by Walt Disney Pictures.