How to Attract and Catch Fireflies

Updated on June 13, 2019
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge is an avid reader who enjoys learning about beautiful garden plants. Among other things, she has worked with a florist.

You can create safe spaces for fireflies with a few simple tips.
You can create safe spaces for fireflies with a few simple tips. | Source

Few things are as magical in the summertime as watching fireflies light up sky. But with the numbers of fireflies dwindling, how can you enjoy the magic of summer while encouraging the firefly population? The steps to have a hospitable yard for fireflies are really quite simple.

Although experts don’t know for certain, they blame two main factors for dwindling firefly populations: development and light pollution. And while you can’t necessarily decrease urbanization of areas, you can make your yard more hospitable by establishing native plants.

What a firefly looks like during the daytime.
What a firefly looks like during the daytime. | Source

Creating a Hospitable Environment for Fireflies

  • Grow your lawn a little longer than normal or consider letting it get a little shaggy around the edges of your yard. Fireflies tend to rest on tall blades of grass during the day (females don’t fly, but males do), and will first make their appearances in those tall grassy areas at night.
  • Plant native trees and flowers. Plant pine trees, but only if they are native to your area. Pine trees are the preferred habitat of fireflies. Their dense foliage layers block out light, and their dropped needles provide the perfect area for firefly larvae to thrive.
  • Fireflies also eat pollen and nectar, so provide an array of sweet, blooming plants.

Great example of a loosely stacked woodpile in a shaded area.
Great example of a loosely stacked woodpile in a shaded area. | Source
  • Create a wood pile, or stack broken branches together in one area. Like other garden critters, fireflies like to lay eggs on rotting wood. The rotting wood increases humidity and increases the likelihood of the presence of larvae prey, such as snails, slugs, and worms. Place the wood pile in loose stacks in a naturally dark area, such as under trees.
  • Install a small pond, birdbath, or other type of water feature. Fireflies love moisture and tend to live and mate near streams or other areas with high humidity.
  • Limit artificial lighting at night. Bright outdoor lighting disturbs the mating habits of fireflies. Male fireflies emit specific patterns to let the females know where they are, females signal back if they are interested in mating. If outdoor lighting is too bright, fireflies can’t accurately see potential suitors.
  • Avoid using pesticides and other chemicals in your garden. If the chemical doesn’t kill the fireflies, the scent may deter them from inhabiting your yard.

How to Catch and Release Fireflies

While it might be tempting to try and collect fireflies in a jar, you may accidentally kill them, or at the very least traumatize them. It’s best to enjoy fireflies from afar unless you follow specific instructions.

  1. Prepare a clear jar with a crumpled, moistened paper towel, or a dampened unbleached coffee filter. The damp towel keeps the area inside the jar humid, making it easier for fireflies to breath, and crumpling the paper gives the fireflies an area to hide.
  2. Pierce the lid with plenty of small holes to allow air and circulation.
  3. Insert an apple slice into the jar. This helps increase the humidity and also gives the firefly something to drink from.
  4. Cover your flashlight with a blue piece of plastic. Fireflies aren’t disoriented by blue light like they are other light colors.
  5. Imitate the firefly flashing patterns by pointing your flashlight up and then down. Don’t ever flash a light directly at a firefly though, it is likely to startle them and scare them away.
  6. Catch fireflies carefully with a net, and carefully place them in a clear jar with a pierced lid. It may be easier to work in pairs, one person holding the net while the other person holds and jar.
  7. Feel free to observe the jar with fireflies, but only keep them for a day or two. Release them into your yard at night when they are most active and when they are less likely to encounter predators.


Although fireflies like long blades of grass, be aware that ticks are also attracted to this area. So, make sure to keep yourself and your children out of the tall grass as much as possible.

Beware that mosquitos are also attracted to standing water. Consider introducing frogs, toads, or tadpoles to your water feature, as they are natural predators of mosquitos.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      This is an interesting and useful article. You give some good tips.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)