Marvin, Massarella, & Friends Firefly Sanctuary

Location: Northern New Canaan, just north of the intersection of Sleepy Hollow Road and Laurel Road.

Access: Visitors should park across the street from 33 Sleepy Hollow Road, and access the property via a small footbridge on the west side of the road.

Date Protected: 1983 and 2015     Acreage: 6.5     Trail Length: 0.3 miles

Firefly Viewing Season: Late June through early July    Dogs Allowed? Yes, on leash    

Visitation Hours: Dawn to Dusk, except during the firefly viewing season, when visitors are welcome to stay through the evening. Please plan to finish your visit by 10:30pm and be courteous to neighbors on your departure.

History: The Land Trust’s Firefly Sanctuary is likely the first (and possibly only) dedicated firefly preserve in the United States. It’s protection came in two phases, with the first 2.5-acres gifted by David and Marion Marvin in 1983. Thirty-two years later, in 2015, the Land Trust was given the opportunity to acquire, via bargain sale, an adjoining 4 acres of forest and meadow from Anthony and Marie Massarella. Thanks to the generosity of neighbors and members, NCLT raised the funds needed to protect this parcel, and triple the acreage of the preserve.

Recreation Opportunities: NCLT has established, and continues to maintain a walking trail at the Firefly Sanctuary. The short trail enables visitors to park along Sleepy Hollow Road, and make their way to the “Firefly Field” on the western portion of the property. The property is also a fine site for bird watching, or taking quick walk with your dog.

Firefly Viewing: During late June and early July, this field is illuminated by thousands upon thousands of fireflies. The fireflies emerge at dusk, and continue their show well into the night. We recommend starting your walk up to the preserve at 8:30pm, while there is still daylight to help you navigate the trail. Once you reach the Firefly Field, the “show” will have just started, and will continue to improve as the sky darkens. This is a phenomenon that inspires wonderment and awe by all who witness it. Remember to bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car, and consider wearing long pants and a long shirt to deter mosquitos and other biting insects.

Land Stewardship: In addition to trail maintenance projects, NCLT works to ensure that the property is ideally suited for the enormous firefly population that calls the sanctuary “home”. Limited mowing creates the grassy/brushy habitat that fireflies need, while preventing woody plants from taking over. We deliberately leave woody material on the ground to serve as nesting sites for the fireflies. This downed materials also serves as a home for the worms and snails that firefly larvae eat.

More: Read on about our “one of a kind” firefly sanctuary in THIS article by Dr. Christopher Cratsley, a biologist and entomologist at Fitchburg State University.

THIS video from News12 CT explains some of the magic that visitors will encounter on a trip to NCLT’s Firefly Sanctuary, and features neighboring firefly-lover, Bill McDonald.