Pest Identification: Fireflies in Tennessee

Unlike many of the insects you may read about on our site, fireflies—a member of the Lampyridae family—are beetles that are known for their bioluminescent qualities. Fireflies can vary greatly in appearance, but their most prominent feature is the “cold light” they produce during twilight. Fireflies use this illumination to attract mates or prey.

Fireflies can be found in temperate and tropical climates, often in marshes or wet, wooded areas. As far as pest considerations go, they are not dangerous to people, animals, or crops.

Signs of Fireflies

The most visible evidence of fireflies, the light they produce, is their defining characteristic. It should be noted, however, that some fireflies don’t produce any light whatsoever. Those that do, however, can sometimes synchronize their flashing. This is called phase synchronization. In fact, one of the most famous instances of fireflies blinking at once can be found near Elkmont, TN, during the first few weeks of June.

Firefly Conservation

Fireflies, unlike other outdoor insects, are often an appreciated and welcome part of your backyard. Firefly populations are in decline, however, for many reasons. In addition to loss of habitat area due to development and land-use change, fireflies may be unable to mate due to the impact of light pollution. They are extremely sensitive to environmental levels of light and can be greatly impacted by artificial night lighting.

One of the best ways to save the experience of seeing fireflies at twilight is to reduce the amount of artificial light outside your home and in the backyard. In addition, avoid over-mowing your lawn. One downside to firefly conservation, however, is that many of the same conditions that attract them can be friendly for other pests.

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