Ottawa alight with the glow of fireflies

If you think you are seeing more fireflies in the nation's capital this summer, you are not alone.

Wet spring and summer led to bumper crop of the bioluminescent bugs

Fireflies are pictured in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Elkmont Campground near Gatlinburg, Tenn. This photograph was made by 'stacking' 123 long exposures shot over a 1.5-hour period. (Adam Lau/Associated Press)

If you think you are seeing more fireflies in the nation's capital this summer, you are not alone.

Many people in Ottawa have reported seeing the bioluminescent bugs flying around their urban gardens or at the soccer field.

"We're seeing pretty good numbers this year and then also surprisingly even in urbanized areas … we are getting a lot of reports of more fireflies than have been out recently," said Marc Branham, a professor at the University of Florida who has studied fireflies for more than 20 years.

He said this year's wet spring contributed to an increase in the number of fireflies. In 2017, Ottawa had the wettest May and July on record.

According to Branham, the firefly larvae feed on slugs, snails and earthworms — and those creatures are in abundance when the weather is wetter.

"It's a real phenomenon and these spectacular firefly displays which are out this spring and summer are probably correlated with [the] wetter year."

A firefly friendly garden

Laurie St. Louis, who works at Ritchie Feed and Seed, has had many customers come to the garden centre raving about the fireflies this summer.

"People right in downtown Ottawa are seeing fireflies, people out on Riverside Drive are seeing fireflies, one woman said she lives on a second storey apartment building, she was seeing fireflies out on her balcony. So everybody is seeing them this year," said St. Louis.

Laurie St. Louis of Ritchie Feed and Seed says you can attract fireflies to your backyard with a water feature that is loaded with hiding spots and places for them to lay larvae. (Reno Patry/CBC)
St. Louis said you can set up a water feature, without fish, and plant a firefly friendly garden to attract more of the bugs.

"You also need to have a lot of plants in the water feature so that way they have places to sit, they have places to hide, they have places to sun themselves during the day so that way they can work up their bioluminescence."

And, as an added bonus, St. Louis said fireflies will help deal with the mosquito problem that also comes with a wet spring.

"They actually eat the mosquitoes, the mosquito larvae, they will eat slugs, they will eat all kinds of the negative insects that are going to be damaging your yard or damaging your ability to enjoy your backyard."

Have you seen fireflies in Ottawa this summer? Send us your pictures