Saturday, December 02, 2006

Fireflies are wonderful mystical creatures. Creating light within their own bodies. Flashing for a mate or to warn predators away they twinkle and sparkle through the dusk on warm summer nights.Children love to chase them. Adults sit and watch the show as fascinated as the kids. At least this is so around here.

We live and garden in Chicago. As a perk of habitat gardening our firefly population has increased each summer. I have looked into why this might be so.

First I have eliminated much lawn. Large areas of the garden have spaces of soil between the plantings which is covered only with decaying organic matter.
Wood piles and stumps are placed here and there to decompose. Abundant leaf mold and much compost is incorporated into shrub and woodland edge type planting areas. Most dormant plants are left intact for the winter and cut back only in spring.

We do not use any pesticides,herbicides or chemical fertilizers.
Most areas are dug once to prepare for planting then left undisturbed.

Mulches, low ground covers, shrubby areas creating shaded ground, lush overall greenery and a small pond increase the moisture and humidity levels.

Interesting info found about the beetle Lampyridae-commonly- Firefly...lightning bug...glow worm.

The fireflies pay rent for reproductive space in gardens with service rendered. The larvae eat slugs and snails. Is that cool or what? They can follow a slug slime trail and inject an anesthetic which immobilizes dinner. Several larvae may work together to incapacitate larger prey.
Adult fireflies especially females (they produce little of the chemical that lights up and may need to ingest it from males) are suspected of eating other species of firefly on occasion but overall energy is acquired from nectar sources.
Actually the entertainment value alone would assure them space in our garden.

On several sites there were places to report firefly sightings. What a great idea. I think come warm weather again, I will report the first sighting and ask others to chime in.

In Japan where fireflies lay eggs in low water rather than moist soil, raising fireflies is in vogue. They have celebrations when emerging starts. Japanese are always good for ideas to party.
genji firefly

Light bulbs expend 90% of energy as heat with only 10% as light.
A firefly lights up without wasting energy and produces no heat.
Many deep sea creatures use the same light producing body chemicals.

One other interesting finding, the grandchildren were watching some silly show on tv where home movies are sent in. Someone fed many fireflies to a frog then recorded the flashing frog, gross...

Search google for[ fireflies ] or [beetle Lampyridae]

Firefly Facts...

Mark Branham's firefly graphic


Blogger firefly said...

I grew up in New Jersey and on warm summer nights we used to capture lightning bugs in jars and then let them go.

(Only partly why I chose the name 'firefly' as a handle -- Groucho Marx is the other part.)

Maine has species of fireflies, but they apparently flash infrequently. I can't recall seeing the numbers here that we had in Jersey.

4/12/06 5:00 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Hello firefly, I spent time the last couple of days reading your garden blog. You have a way of writing to which I can relate.
If you remember,when next fireflies are spotted give a holler. It would be interesting to track.

6/12/06 7:51 PM  
Blogger firefly said...

Thanks, Gloria, I'll do that. I'm glad you started blogging, because I'm trying to base my garden on Sara Stein's work too, and I look forward to visiting here.

11/12/06 11:00 AM  

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