Fireflies Could Be Headed for Extinction Due to Light Pollution

Image Credit: Pixabay

If you’re from a part of the world where fireflies (or lightning bugs!) go hand-in-hand with the other delightful, relaxing, warm feelings of a summer evening well-spent, well, there might be bad news on the horizon.

Popular Science reports that firefly species from around the world are at risk because of many of the same threats to other bugs – pollution, pesticides, destruction of the environment – but there’s another, more particular human-made problem that’s a problem for them: light pollution.

The research team out of Tufts University was led by biology professor Sara Lewis, and the truth about firefly decline was published in BioScience. The team surveyed other scientists, conservationists, and other experts working in different parts of the globe, the compiled the research to reach their conclusions.

And though habitat loss, along with insecticides, were cited as huge issues around the world, light pollution was also brought up as a concern by almost everyone involved.

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The way a firefly lights up isn’t just for show – it’s essential to the survival of their species. The flicker of bioluminescence is how they attract mates when the time is right, and with so much man-made light out there, fireflies are struggling to see each other’s courtship signals.

No mating, no new fireflies, and if that goes on long enough, the decline in population will be disastrous.

Right now, more than 23% of the world’s fireflies are experiencing some degree of light pollution.

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Generally, being left in the dark isn't a good thing. Unless you're one of the 60% of invertebrates that are #nocturnal and depend on the darkness! 🌃 This includes many #insects like fireflies, certain moths and beetles, and even a handful of bee species. 🐛🐜🕷️ Artificial outdoor lighting at night has negative impacts on the habitats, foraging activity and life cycles of these nocturnal species — but we can help them by simply turning off our lights. 💡🚫⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If a total "lights out" approach isn't possible, here are three easy ways to reduce the amount of illumination:⁠⠀ 🔆 Use motion-activated lights.⁠⠀ 🔆 Use directional covers on lights.⁠⠀ 🔆 Use amber (not white or blue) bulbs.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Visit the @smithsonianmagazine link in our bio to learn more about the role #lightpollution plays in insect decline. 📉 Bonus: many of the things we do to reduce light pollution will also help us increase energy efficiency! #winwin⁠ . . Repost from @xercessociety using @RepostRegramApp – Did you know? Fireflies have more abilities than just bioluminescence! They can produce odor and sticky substances to repel predators, for instance. Although adult fireflies often don’t feed, larvae are voracious. In fact, they help to control populations of many crop pests, including slugs and snails! This means they are counted among the ranks of beneficial insects—predatory insects that serve as an alternative to pesticides.⠀ •••⠀ 📸: Bryan E. Reynolds⠀ •••⠀ #didyouknow #firefly #fireflies #lightningbug #lightningbugs #glowbugs #beetles #lampyridae #bioluminescence #beneficialinsects #naturalpestcontrol #pesticidealternatives #conservationbiocontrol #biocontrol #conservation #environment #biology #invertebrateconservation #xercessociety

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Experts believe that even curbing land development and backing off on insecticides might not be enough to save the dwindling population; if you want to help, try reducing your usage of artificial outdoor lights.

If we did this on a larger scale, scientists believe that many species who thrive in the darkness would benefit beyond explanation.

Will you turn off the lights at night? Please think about. For the fireflies sake…