Certify Your Backyard


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 criteria:

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.