How to Help Lightning Bugs

Lightning bugs need leaf litter.

Today, most of us want to get rid of all the leaves. But we need to save some of our leaves.Leaf litter has many benefits.

It captures a good deal of rainwater. That’s good for water quality. Leaves absorb rain water so that it doesn’t go rushing into the streams and rivers, where it’s not needed.

This moist layer on the ground is a haven for insects, spiders, and millipedes, all of which are food for birds and indeed carnivorous insects.

Carnivorous insects include our friend the lightning bug. Its larvae thrive in leaf litter because they feed on the other insects that reside in the leaf litter.

But none of this occurs if we treat all leaves as “yard waste.” We need to save some of our leaves and let them be a haven for the above-described ecosystem. That way we can have lightning bugs.

Not only that, many birds feed upon, and thrive on, the bugs that make their living as decomposers. These decomposers are busy about the job of breaking down the leaves.

And these become food for certain birds, like thrushes.

Populations of thrushes are also down because we so quickly and readily eliminate the breeding grounds for their favorite foods.

So set aside some leaf litter. Clean up some of your leaves, but reserve some areas of your yard, your park, your campus for these very important miniature ecosystems.