Thursday, July 21, 2011

Food for Thought: What do you call these bugs?

Our good friend, local Master Gardener Dave Kneipp, took an informal poll at the Market a few weeks ago. What do you call these magical summer bugs? Lightning bugs? Fireflies? Well, from his "rather unscientific poll at the Master Gardener Plant Clinic, the name firefly edged the name lightning bug by 11 to 9."

Whatever you call them, these beautiful bugs are a special part of living in this area. Seeing our backyards lit up throughout the summer courtesy of these little marvels is a real treat! Dave passes along a few tips about how you can help the lightning bugs -- or fireflies -- thrive in Cheverly:

Cheverly Lightning Bug Habitat

1. Don’t use pesticides on your lawn. Lightning bugs are beetles and are very susceptible to insecticides. Use natural fertilizers.
2. Create water features in your landscape. Lightning bugs are sensitive to moisture. If you collect them in a jar, put a moist paper towel in the jar and don’t keep them for more than 24 hours.
3. Let decaying logs and leaf litter accumulate. If you have trees in your yard, consider leaving some natural litter around them to give firefly larvae a place to grow.
4. Don’t over-mow your lawn. Fireflies mainly stay on the ground during the day, and frequent mowing may disturb local firefly populations. While you may feel that you need to keep your lawn mowed for aesthetic purposes, consider incorporating some areas of long grasses into your landscaping.

Find more information at And make sure to visit Dave and the Master Gardeners at our August 13 Market!

image courtesy of


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a recipe for mosquitoes too. I guess you can't have the good with the bad.

DancerInDC said...

I think I read somewhere that what you call these beetles is regional. In the midwest the common name is Lightning Bug.

Whatever you call them, I love having 'em around! Gentle creatures, I can often get them to just land on my arm for awhile.

Thanks for the tips, Dave!

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

Do you know about Operation Firefly? Would be a fun way to get the kids involved in caring about fireflys, too!!