As the summer months bring warmer weather, the bioluminescent firefly heats up with its own version of Tinder. The firefly’s courtship display has long been a wonder to behold and can inspire a lasting appreciation and curiosity for nature.
Populations are seeing a decline, however, and some scientists believe that light pollution is to blame. Fireflies communicate by flashing their tail-lights in patterns to each other, but when ultra-bright artificial lighting is nearby, these messages can be out-shined.
As a response, the Fireflyers International Network decided to raise awareness by establishing World Firefly Day in 2018. It’s second celebration was held last month, on 6-7th of July, when temperatures were ideal for spawning.
Dr. Sara Lewis, Chair of the Fireflyers International Network, said this year’s theme aimed to highlight a growin threat to firefly populations.
“Our theme this year – fireflies need dark nights – highlights a growing threat to these charismatic insects,” Dr. Lewis said.
“All around the world, cities’ bright lights are erasing natural darkness. Brightly lit areas obscure their magical glow, making it difficult for fireflies to detect their bioluminescent mating signals.”
There are over 2,000 different species of firefly, with the majority of them thriving in warm and humid nights while providing many environmental benefits. According to Entopia, most species are highly effective pollinators, and their larvae can help keep pests away from vegetable patches. Having many fireflies around can also be an indicator of good water quality, as they can only thrive in ecosystems with healthy water bodies.
Light pollution can also create problems for other animal species, including sea turtles, migrating birds, moths and bats. It affects species distribution and activity, which can then determine reproduction rates. The Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation provides tips for lowering your light pollution without compromising on safety for humans.
- Lower your light pollution by using outdoor lighting only as needed, or switch from brighter bulbs to dim, red bulbs that aren’t as disruptive to nearby animals.
- Help protect animal habitats by planting native trees in your area! Check out the National Tree Day website to host or join a planting event.
- Enjoy viewing the incredible native wildlife Australia has to offer by visiting a national park! Visit Parks Australia for more details.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.