No matter how hard we try, we can never outdo Nature for beauty and magic. Case in point, all my life I have been mesmerized by our tiny glowing friends we call fireflies, lightning bugs or candle bugs. Not only are their displays breathtaking, their gentleness makes them all the more precious. Unfortunately, according to the April-May issue of the National Wildlife Federation magazine (https://www.nwf.org/), firefly populations seem to be dwindling. One of the most at-risk is the Bethany Beach firefly, which is found within a 20-mile span of Delaware’s southern coast. These bright little creatures have been seen at only seven spots in recent years. What was once plentiful, is now rare.
A number of factors play into this decline: residential and commercial development have damaged their habitat. They are also harmed by pesticides used on lawns, gardens, agricultural fields, particularly the neonicotinoids, which are also lethal to pollinators. Aerial insecticides are also very harmful, as they are sprayed at dusk, in order to combat mosquito swarms. Unfortunately, fireflies, which mostly fly at that time, have become collateral damage.
There are a number of things we can do to stop, or at least minimize this decline. Replace lawns with native grasses or wildflower meadows and provide moist places where females can lay their eggs. If possible, leave leaf litter and woody debris around yard margins. This provides habitat for firefly larva and their prey. Give pesticides the cold shoulder. They are a very short-sided fix, doing more harm than good. Try to minimize or eliminate the use of nonessential outdoor lighting so that the fireflies can multiply and help control grubs, slugs and snails.
Fireflies (we called them lightning bugs) were a magical part of my childhood. It would be nice if we could pass this on to our children and our children’s children.
Light pollution poses a special threat to fireflies that rely on their shiny signals to mate. Artificial light can suppress the males’ flashes by 80% and prevent females from responding to those flashes.
You have probably heard about the massive baby formula shortage all around the world. Baby formula is either out of stock, or if it is available, the price is unbelievably high. If you can get your hands on some, try donating it to your local shelter or food bank. If you can’t afford it, try to make a donation of any amount. Putting these amounts together will enable our local nonprofits to possibly afford a stop gap purchase until things get better.
that all the world
be pure in his sight.
The earth should not be injured.
The earth should not be destroyed.
Hildegard of Bingen (Quoted in Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen, 1983)