Fireflies are not only magical, but their arrival is often a sign that summer is near. If you have been lucky enough to witness the illumination of fireflies, then you probably recall warm summer nights spotting and admiring their beauty, or maybe even catching them!
At Hotel Mockingbird Hill our guests are fascinated by the number of fireflies that can be seen at night. After a lovely dinner, guests can enjoy a post-dinner coffee on the perch overlooking beautiful Port Antonio, where one may come across these magical creatures.
Part of the beetle family, there are approximately 2000 species of fireflies. They are usually found in tropical climates, such as Southeast Asia and the Americas, as they are drawn to the humidity and moisture of these warm environments. Remember that bugs can be beautiful too and therefore shouldn’t be feared, as they are a part of nature.
Each firefly flashes its light in a pattern unique to its subspecies. When in clusters, fireflies closely resemble flickering Christmas lights. They use their light to communicate with one another, and scientists believe their light is used to attract mates and to seek protection from predators.
How do they produce light? Well, it’s all due to a chemical reaction called bioluminescence which occurs in specialized light-emitting organs that are located beneath the abdomen – but let’s not get too scientific!
The Disappearance of Fireflies
The disappearance of fireflies from marshes, fields and forests is mainly attributed to development and light pollution. As urbanization and the construction of houses and commercialized buildings begin to take over open fields, the firefly habitat is being disturbed. Add to that noisy traffic, streetlights and chemical pesticides, and the firefly population is quickly running out of places to live and breed. In fact, scientists believe that light pollution can even throw off the synchronization of their flashing light. As a result of their dwindling population worldwide, fireflies will unfortunately become an even rarer sighting for future generations.
If you would like to attract fireflies to your yard, here are some tips to create a firefly-friendly environment:
- Turn off all outside lights at night
- Leave natural litter e.g. logs that provide a place for firefly larvae to grow
- Add a water feature, such as a small pond, to your garden, as fireflies thrive around moisture and marshy areas – a chlorinated swimming pool won’t do the trick!
- Avoid the use of chemical pesticides and use natural fertilizers. At Hotel Mockingbird Hill we avoid the use of pesticides to help maintain biodiversity
- Refrain from over-mowing your lawn, as fireflies like to stay on the ground during the day
- Plant native trees that are local to the area
If you are fascinated by fireflies just as much as we are, you’ll want to check out this Ted Talks video titled ‘The loves and lies of fireflies.’ Biologist Sara Lewis will share the facts and wonders of fireflies that she has gathered over the past 20 years.