The lightning bug is also known as a firefly or by its scientific family name of "Lampyridae." They are not actually flies at all, but are part of the beetle family. In the U.S., it is rare to find a firefly west of Kansas, although, according to the Ohio State University Extension, there have been isolated sightings. If you enjoy the blinking beauty of lightning bugs, and would like to attract more to your yard for a summer night light show, there are a few measures you can take to increase your chances.
Eliminate the use of harsh pesticides. Chemicals that deter other pests will also deter lightning bugs.
Allow your grass to grow a little taller. Fireflies rest on tall grass, which is why you will often see them in open meadows at night. If you do not want to let your entire lawn grow taller, select at least one patch of grass on the edge of your lawn to grow as a firefly habitat. Tall grass will also attract other insects and collect pollen, both of which are food sources for the bugs. They also like moisture, so if you can select a patch of grass near a stream or swamp, it is even better.
Turn off the outdoor lights. If you have bright house lights that shine out into your yard, you probably won't attract lightning bugs. The OSU Extension explains that light interferes with the lightning bug's signal and that the degree of light around them determines when they will light up.
Attract a male firefly, also known as a "Big Dipper," by using a pen light. To do this effectively, you must flash the pen light within two seconds of the lightning bug's flash when he is near you. You could also try flashing the pen light on a dark summer night, just to see if you can lure any bugs from a distance.
The lightning bug flashes not only to attract a mate, but the University of Delaware Extension explains that they also flash to warn other insect predators that they are not tasty.
Starting a habitat for lightning bugs can be beneficial to you because the young larvae feed on slugs and decaying matter.
If you have exotic pets, such as lizards, do not let them eat lightning bugs because they can be toxic and deadly to reptiles.