Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Fireflies Are Disappearing, and Humans are to Blame, Scientists Say

I used to see a lot of fire flies in my yard during the summer. Now I see them rarely, and then just one or two. Sad.

Fireflies Are Disappearing, and Humans are to Blame, Scientists Say
Published: Jun 27 2016 12:00 AM EDT
By Eric Chaney

Scientists have for years been warning that the world’s estimated 2,000 species of fireflies are dwindling, the New York Times says.

“Everyone can see how they’re changing,” Alex Chow, assistant professor of biogeochemistry at the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, told the New York Times. “I never see someone come in and say, ‘I’m seeing fewer butterflies than 10 years ago.’ But I have people say, ‘I’m seeing fewer fireflies.’”

While “nobody knows for sure” why populations are declining, says, most researchers blame two main factors: development and light pollution.

Scientists have observed that synchronous fireflies get out of synch for a few minutes after a car's headlights pass, reports, and theorize that light from homes, cars, stores, and streetlights may all make it difficult for fireflies to signal each other during mating. Firefly numbers are also dwindling as more open fields and forests are being paved over for housing and commercial developments.

But having more fireflies around can actually be good for the economy. The insects have, in recent years, become ecotourism icons, says a statement from the Second International Firefly Symposium.


There are smaller scale ways to help increase local populations of fireflies, says

Turn off outside lights at night. Though it’s still yet to be definitely proven, scientists think that human light pollution disrupts firefly flashes, which are used to attract mates.

Let logs and litter accumulate. Several species of fireflies lay their eggs in rotting wood, so leaving a few fallen branches at the base of your trees increases the chances of more little fireflies being born.

Create water features in your landscape. Nearly all species of fireflies thrive around water. Add a small pond or depression to your yard - but not a chlorinated pool, which doesn’t support the insect life that fireflies feed on.


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