A SURVEY OF FIREFLY PRESENCE IN THE EAST KOOTENAYS.

In June and July 2010, the Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners carried out a survey to identify the distribution and habitat requirements of fireflies in the East Kootenay. This was accomplished primarily through telephone conversations with local land owners and other observers. Although common in Eastern Canada and the South Eastern States, fireflies are uncommon in B.C. Little is known about their range, habitat requirements or abundance. In the Columbia River system they are found at the Baillie Grohman Canal near Canal Flats, along Columbia Lake, near Fairmont Hot Springs, at Luxor Creek and at two locations in the wetlands near Brisco. They also occur in two small lakes located on the west benches west of Brisco. There are historic observations from the town of Windermere. They apparently do not occur north of Brisco in the remainder of the wetlands north to Donald.

The area north of Donald is flooded by the Kinbasket reservoir and any historic habitat in that area has been lost. In the Kootenay River system fireflies were found at several sites between Wardner, B.C. and Canal Flats, B.C. Two historic occurrences were found in the area from the US border to Wardner. Fireflies have been observed in the last decade at a total of 25 sites with records from previous decades at another 10 sites. It would appear from this survey that fireflies may be more common than is generally assumed. Fireflies are associated with pond habitat, usually with emergents and with a nearby small creek or stream that does not freeze during winter. Most such sites are found on the floodplains of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers, though fireflies also occur at several small lakes and ponds on the adjacent benches. Most sites used by fireflies were found in the area between Wardner and Canal Flats, where the floodplain of the Kootenay River (and associated spring brooks and wetlands) are still intact. They appear to be elevation limited, no sighting have been found outside the Trench. Most of the sites are located on private land. All of the land owners contacted have indicated a significant interest in these insects and an interest in retaining their habitat. The Partners should work with these land owners to assist them in retaining these habitat areas. Fireflies are a species that are synonymous with healthy wetlands and are important indicators of healthy wetlands and riparian conditions. They should be part of every young person’s early connections with the natural world in general and wetlands in particular. The Partners should work with educators and schools to provide a school program to introduce kids to fireflies and wetlands. The best sites for doing so are the Baillie Grohman canal area near Canal Flats, and several other sites on private land up and down the valley.

 

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Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners