How to Attract Fireflies to Your Garden

Did you know that fireflies are among Canada’s top nocturnal pollinators? These beneficial bugs are all the buzz amongst kids. However, they are typically discovered on camping trips and rarely close to home. However, it’s possible to increase your household’s odds of enjoying the sight and backyard pollinating powers of these magical creatures with some proactive measures. Let’s review.

Tips to Attracting Fireflies to Your Household’s Backyard and Garden in Canada this Summer

Find Out if They’re Common to Your Locale

There are an estimated 150 species of fireflies in North America, with many enjoying Canada’s climate from BC all the way over to the Eastern neck of the country. That said, each province has their own number of species and regional concentrations. Some greater than others, and unfortunately some without. The last thing we want your children to do is stand outside in the evening for hours tooting a firefly whistle (not really a thing) to no avail. Below is a breakdown of which areas in your province you may find fireflies:

  • BC: Relegated to the East Kootenay region with a concentration in the Rocky Mountain Trench.
  • Alberta: Fireflies are all over Alberta, with concentrations in Fort Chipewyan, south through Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Cypress Hills.
  • Saskatchewan: Fireflies are all over the province, with concentrations along the South Saskatchewan River.
  • Manitoba:
  • Ontario: Ontario has the largest number of firefly species and populations in Canada, with heavier concentrations in rural areas of Southern Ontario.
  • Quebec: There are fireflies throughout the Quebec, with the Mount Royal Park (Parc du Mont-Royal) in Montreal boasting the largest concentration.
  • New Brunswick: There are fireflies throughout the province near still bodies of water away from the coastal areas of NB.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: There are not recording firefly sightings in NL.
  • Nova Scotia: There are small concentrations in Inverness, Cape Breton, Victoria, Richmond, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby, and Hants NS.
  • Prince Edward Island: There have been fewer reports of fireflies in PEI, although they can still be found near still bodies of water away from the coastal areas of the province.

Find Out the Best Time of the Summer to Attract Them

Damp weather provides an ideal environment for fireflies, so that’s a solid starting point. If drought conditions persist in any given month the tips below won’t be as effective. Otherwise, assuming your geography is ideal you have a greater shot at attracting fireflies when love is in the air. That’s right, like with many animal species, mating season is when fireflies are out in full swing. In Canada, that period is June and July although a few may linger to mingle in early August. Given that there is no evidence to suggest that playing the soothing sounds of Barry White or any other romantic crooner is effective in attracting this beneficial bug, we suggest following the advice below instead.

Turn Off the Lights

Light pollution due to urban densification is one of the primary causes of the dwindling firefly population. Be sure to keep the lights off in your garden, yard, patio, and even in the rooms with windows that face the desired exterior side of the home. Not only does pure darkness attract them, it creates the only condition for your eyes to spot them in.

Create an Ideal Backyard Climate

As alluded to above, fireflies like still water. If you want to attract them each and every summer, install water features such as a water fountain that you can turn-off to stop motion in the evening. You may even integrate landscaping elements to introduce a small pond and slow moving stream. In addition, take a page from these tips to promoting biodiversity in your garden by planting a native pine or two. Fireflies lay their eggs in pine tree canopies. Furthermore, you may ease up on the lawn cutting during the summer (the kids will love that!) as fireflies require tall grasses to signal their potential mates. Lastly, fireflies leverage rotting wood to attract prey, so feel free to drag home some old driftwood on your family’s next beachcombing adventure.

Below are some other articles (click each to view) from our Foundation that you family can use for outdoor learning.