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.
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.
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…