Once a common sight on Eight Mile Point, more recently it seemed that the magical, flashing insects had all but disappeared. However a few years ago the meadow maintenance changed. The first mowing was delayed a few weeks to mid-July to protect nesting grassland birds and to enhance native insect habitat. For the majority of birds, insects are the most important food – particularly for rearing their young. Fireflies prefer tall grass and, combined with last year’s wet summer, they returned in droves.

Why do they flash? This little ½ inch flying beetle has the unusual ability of communicating with flashes of light produced within its own body. The flashes are used to attract a mate, warn of danger or even to lure a tasty meal/prey.

When and where can you see them? Fireflies begin their evening performance in the McLean Reserve meadows around dusk on summer evenings from the beginning of June to the first of August. View them from the road, if you prefer, but carry a flashlight and be mindful of cars! For best results, go before the long grass is mown in mid-July.

There are many species of fireflies but the most common one in Canada is Photinus pyralis, also known as the common eastern firefly or big dipper firefly.

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