Is it just me, or has it been a really long time since anyone else has seen fireflies in New Jersey?

I don't mean just one or two here and there. I mean hundreds of them that would make backyards twinkle in the warm summer nights. If I think about it, I'd say the last time I saw even one was three summers ago.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash
Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash
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When I was a kid growing up in South Jersey, the entire neighborhood of kids would be outside catching fireflies with little glass jars with holes poked in the top - because there were thousands of them! It was literally like the song "Fireflies" by Owl City. Nowadays it seems like we're lucky if we see a handful.

I had to do some digging, because I miss those pretty little bugs, and I'm sure everyone else does too. And it turns out, we're not imagining things. They really are disappearing.

Yes, firefly numbers are dwindling

Unfortunately, firefly populations are indeed dwindling, and it's been happening for a while.

According to, firefly populations are decreasing nationwide and all over the world.

Photo by David Todd McCarty on Unsplash
Photo by David Todd McCarty on Unsplash

Why? Researchers believe it's due to factors such as light pollution, pesticides, and loss of habitat. Fireflies like to live near wooded areas with ponds and streams and they need darkness to communicate. So when developers build over more land and the areas become too light-polluted, this leave fireflies with nowhere to go.

How can I help fireflies come back?

The Farmers Almanac recommends:

  • Install water features like fountains in your garden
  • Let wood rot (that's where they like to lay their eggs)
  • Turn your lights off at night
  • Avoid using lawn chemicals
  • Plant a garden
  • Plant trees
  • Don't over-mow your lawn
  • Don't rake leaves and throw them away - you could be throwing away larvae.

Hopefully it's not too late to turn things around. It would be a shame to see these beautiful insects disappear forever because of us!

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