Illinois Audubon Society Quiz—Fireflies

Illinois Audubon Board Member Allen Yow's interest in fireflies began in the summer of 2016. A chance encounter with a firefly repeating a flash pattern of three quick flashes, followed by a 3-5 second pause, then three quick flashes made him realize his yard was home to more than one species of firefly. Since then, he has made the time to observe and identify the species found in central Illinois, and he recounted his experience in Big Dippers and Chinese Lanterns: Our Amazing Fireflies, a story he authored for the summer 2019 issue of Illinois Audubon magazine.

Yow recommends that if you are interested in encouraging fireflies to remain in your area, let a portion of your yard go “wild” by mowing less often and allowing leaf litter and woody debris to accumulate. Tall grass, leaf litter and woody debris make good habitat for firefly larvae. Use only necessary outdoor lights and direct the light downward. Avoid using broad-spectrum insecticides and lawn fertilizers as they often include pesticides.

Take a few moments to test your knowledge about fireflies, then step outside and put your new-found knowledge to use.