Submitted by Lauren Viera
Amanda O’Gara Pedersen’s Fairhaven High Environmental Science Club got down and dirty on Sunday May 19th at the West Island Firefly Habitat. She loves doing experiments and projects with her students in school, but feels the importance of also teaching them to get involved in their community. And what better way to do this then by helping the fireflies?
Did you know that firefly numbers are declining This is due to many factors but, most importantly, loss of habitat and light pollution. The tarring of roads causes runoff that can contaminate the wet forest floors they use to lay their eggs. All of the street lights and back yard floodlights affect the firefly light show which is their breeding technique. Plus the development of our open land and use of pesticides make it difficult for them, too.
The West Island Firefly Habitat was created a few years ago by a group of neighbors who wanted to ensure our magic bugs stick around. The West Island Improvement Association allowed a section of the field on Fir Street near the basketball court to be sectioned off.
Many generous Islanders donated perennials from their gardens or supplies to help make the simple fence. Each spring the Habitat needs some sprucing up. Amanda, along with her children, Emily and Jakob, and a few science club students got to work. They helped plant some flowering trees, fixed the fence, and weeded out the dead grass and leaves. This will make the area more enjoyable for everyone (including the bugs) come summertime.
The habitat started out with fireflies in mind, but actually helps much wildlife. We have milkweed plants growing which are great for the Monarch butterflies. The Audubon society has noted that letting a section of your property’s grass grow to full height and wild is great for the birds.* The deer have been visiting and enjoying the tiger lilies as a spring snack, not to mention the fence had to be repaired from the fox pups ripping it up in the tall grasses.
If you would like to find out more about the habitat or visit it, contact Lauren Viera at 508-997-8731
*Editor’s Note: Also, when you leave a part of your yard a little wild, you give the fairies a place to stay as they travel the world at night bestowing goodness wherever they go.
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