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Vanishing fireflies

Making It Grow Minute Extra logo

When I was young, we had lots of fireflies in our Columbia backyard in the summer. But when we went to camp or my grandparent’s summer retreat in Saluda, North Carolina, the numbers seemed exponentially greater. Maybe since we had no TV or radio, we played outside. More. We’d catch fireflies in glass jars and keep them over night (releasing them the next morning). We had lots of moist woods around us and few nighttime lights, good environmental conditions for these bioluminescent beetles. Now they are fewer and fewer in almost all places. The larvae can live up to two years in the soil before emerging for a short adult lifespan, that means plowing, timbering, new housing and road construction all take their toll. Keep some areas of your yard undisturbed and cut off lights at night.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.