It's not your imagination. There are less lightning bugs in the Hudson Valley than there used to be.

Many people have fond memories of warm summer nights from their youth, playing outside and chasing after fireflies. Thanks to video games and the Internet, there are fewer kids playing outside. But the reason for the decline in the firefly population is a bit more complicated.

According to firefly.org there are several reasons why we don't see as many lightning bugs as we did a decade ago. Pesticides used to keep our lawns green and weed free have been known to kill off large numbers of the glowing insects. Fireflies also thrive in wide open fields. Thanks to massive development in the Hudson Valley, there are fewer and fewer wide open spaces. Lightning bugs have been basically driven out of town by new construction.

Large floodlights have also contributed to the mass exodus of fireflies in the Hudson Valley. Because the insects rely on flashing their lights to communicate, lightning bugs are leaving neighborhoods with streetlights and homes that light their yards with solar lanterns that stay on all evening long.

So what can we do to bring back the fireflies to the Hudson Valley? Firefly.org has a few suggestions:

  • Turn off outdoor lights at night to allow male and female fireflies to communicate for breeding purposes.
  • Don't clean up too much wood and leaf litter around your trees. This is a favorite spot for fireflies to breed and live.
  • Add water features to your property. A small pond or even a birdbath will attract fireflies as they eat smaller bugs drawn to the water.
  • Avoid pesticides and lawn chemicals.
  • Don't over-mow your lawn. If you want to keep your lawn short, be sure to plant ornamental tall grasses around your property so lightning bugs have a place to live.

Have you noticed fewer fireflies in the Hudson Valley this year? Let us know what you think about the tips above to help bring them back.

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