CERTIFY YOUR YARD
You can help bring fireflies and other threatened species back to your
neighborhood by certifying your yard as a wildlife habitat.
The certification is given through the National
Wildlife Federation. To earn it, your yard must meet the following
Food sources for animals. This can include nuts, seeds,
berries, fruits, and native plants and flowers that attract insects and
other animals. Check out this excellent resource from the Wildflower center for recommendations on what kind of native plants to plant in your state.
Water sources. A water source can be as big as a pond
or stream, or as small as a birdbath or a small depression filled with
water. For fireflies, this is especially important; fireflies thrive around
water and moist areas.
Habitat. For general wildlife, this can be trees and
brush, birdhouses, rock piles, woodpiles, or any area where animals can
live and build nests. Fireflies prefer tall grasses and high vantage points
such as trees and tall shrubs.
Nursery space. In general, providing your property with
some dense undergrowth, shrubs, nesting boxes, or even a pond will give
many local species a nursery.
Firefly larvae feed on slugs, snails and worms that live under logs and
forest litter. Create an area in your yard that encourages the growth
of these creatures by growing trees and leaving litter and leaves beneath
them, and by providing a pond, pool or stream where snails and other treats
for larvae can live.
No chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Keep your property
hospitable to fireflies as well as other creatures by using natural pesticides
and fertilizers. While many people consider bugs and slugs to be pests,
they’re also food for many other species—and allowing them to grow in
your yard can bring back other wildlife, including fireflies. Chemical
fertilizers and pesticides probably have a negative effect on firefly
populations as well as those of other species.
There’s no question development has a negative impact on firefly and
other wild species populations. Make your property friendly to wildlife,
and you’ll be doing your part to encourage them to make a comeback. Check
out the National
Wildlife Federation and Texas Parks & Wildlife Wildscapes Certification Program website for more information.
Check to see if your city or town has a backyard certification
program. Some cities are taking it upon themselves to start their
own backyard wildlife certification programs. One of these places is Austin,
Texas. The City of Austin has 900 spots already certified and wants the
National Wildlife Federation to designate the city a community wildlife
habitat. Part of the certification process includes providing specific
features such as food and water sources, sustainable gardening practices
and places where animals can raise young. There are no tax breaks or any
special benefits that homeowners receive. However the homeowners take
part in restoring natural spaces to areas that are increasingly loosing
them such as urban and suburban areas. For more information on Austin’s
program visit the Parks
and Recreation website.