5 Steps You Can Take This Summer to Attract More Fireflies (Lightning Bugs) to Your Yard

fireflies in a glass jar on a dark background
© Fer Gregory/Shutterstock.com

Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: July 5, 2023

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When the summer season rolls around, you get to enjoy the beauty and wonder of fireflies, also known as lightning bugs. These insects are a type of beetle, and they emerge when the weather warms up. They’re easy to spot when the light is low because their bodies flicker light. Having these fireflies around can provide quite a feast for the eyes and create a magical environment. If you’re looking to welcome fireflies, there are a couple of steps you can take this summer to attract more fireflies to your yard!

Take these steps to attract fireflies to your yard for a magical summer
Take these steps to attract fireflies to your yard for a magical summer!

Keep in mind, however, that some of these tips may also attract other types of insects or make it more difficult for you to enjoy your yard depending on what other types of animals live in your area. For example, tall grasses may make it easier for venomous snakes to hide. Ticks may be difficult to spot in high grass as well. So, consider the pros and cons of each one of these tips and so long as the pros outweigh the cons, you can enjoy a firefly-filled summer season!

5 Steps You Can Take This Summer to Attract More Fireflies (Lightning Bugs) to Your Yard

1. Plant Native Trees

When fireflies are active during the day, they look for shady canopy environments. If you have trees of varying heights, you welcome fireflies into a friendly habitat. When they lay their eggs, fireflies choose leaf litter and pine trees. If you plant native trees, look for pitch pines, red pine, white pine, long and short-leaf pines, and Ponderosa pines. This environment provides the ideal habitat for fireflies to feel safe and thrive. It’s like you create a cozy bed and breakfast that’s too comfortable to leave!

Stand of ponderosa pine trees

Ponderosa pine trees provide the type of environment fireflies thrive in.

©Dominic Gentilcore PhD/Shutterstock.com

2. Let Your Grass Grow

Keeping a neatly manicured lawn offer is fantastic for curb appeal. Short grass can also help you keep an eye out for fire ants, yellow jackets, and ticks. But letting it grow just a bit also provides fireflies with places to hide. Female fireflies look for longer grass to hang out. They even like using the blades of grass as a resting space. These tall grasses allow them to sway in the breeze the way you would, sitting in a hammock on a warm summer day. If keeping your grass a little bit taller doesn’t sound that attractive to you but you still want to attract fireflies, you might want to plant some tall native prairie grass. This way, you can set up designated locations for fireflies to roost on.

Tall grass provides lightning bugs with places to hide.


3. Keep the Lighting Low

If you have tiki torches or string lights decorating your outdoor area, it could be the reason fireflies aren’t attracted to your yard. They need their own glow to take the spotlight because it’s what helps them keep predators away. It’s also what alerts their mates of their presence. To make sure that fireflies are attracted to your yard, turn off any of the lighting that you have set up, including your porch light. After the early evening part of the night, fireflies retreat to sleep so you can turn those lights back on or have your security lighting turn on after a certain period.

Animals that glow – Fireflies

Fireflies have specialized light-emitting organs that are typically located in their abdomens.

©Fer Gregory/Shutterstock.com

4. Add a Water Feature

Another great way to attract fireflies to your yard is to add some kind of water feature. Typically, fireflies are attracted to standing water. High moisture content is alluring for them. Keep in mind, however, that if you live in an environment where mosquitoes are a problem, you may not want to leave any standing water sitting out because that’ll attract mosquitoes. Although having fireflies is beautiful, having mosquitoes potentially bring diseases to your yard can be more of a detriment than anything.

mockingbird in a bird bath ATTRIBUTION NOT FOUND

Bird baths are a great option for encouraging more fireflies to hang out in your yard.

©Jaclyn Vernace/Shutterstock.com

5. Provide Snacks!

Another great option for attracting fireflies is to give them some snacks. It’s like setting up a buffet and inviting them over as guests. Fireflies eat both garden pests and plant pollen and nectar. You can add some flowering plants to your garden to make sure fireflies stop by but don’t go crazy adding garden pests to your yard. It’ll do more harm than good. If you do opt for flowering plants, choose big varieties. These provide tons of pollen and nectar for fireflies to enjoy.

Persian cyclamen flowering plant

Fireflies feast on pollen and nectar as well as garden pests.

©Adrian Eugen Ciobaniuc/Shutterstock.com

Summary of 5 Steps You Can Take This Summer to Attract More Fireflies to Your Yard

#StepsWhy it Attracts
1Plant Native TreesFireflies are attracted to native pines
2Let Your Grass GrowTaller grass gives fireflies a place to hide or rest
3Keep the Lighting LowLow light gives fireflies a chance to shine to attract mates
4Add a Water FeatureFireflies are attracted to standing water
5Provide Snacks!Flowering plants provide pollen and nectar for fireflies to eat

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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