This year my town hasn’t done any mass spraying of insecticide down the streets (I know archaic!). So we have a lovely display of fireflies every evening, which got me wondering…
What is the purpose of a firefly?
Turns out that as adults they are pollinators! Most adult fireflies eat pollen and drink nectar from flowers. When in their larval stage, though, they are carnivorous and eat snails, worms, and other insects. Some species stay carnivorous, but like mentioned above, most adult fireflies are vegetarian.
The lights they flash in the evening can be for a few reasons: to ward off predators, attract a mate, or attract prey. Isn’t that funny? With some species they are warding off prey and for the carnivorous adult firefly they are trying to attract prey. And sometimes the males will flash in sync to attract other fireflies of the same species.
Reasons cited for population declines are habitat loss, insecticide/pesticides, and light pollution.
So keep your garden pesticide free and let some tall plants grow along the edges. I find fireflies hanging out on the native Snakeroot plants I have all over my garden. I’ve also seen them perched in the shade on the big leaves of my pipevine. A little wild can be a good thing : )
Check out this fun facts post by Smithsonian
And if you want to know even more, check out the book Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies, by Sara Lewis