Why are Fireflies Disappearing?

Day 160 – When I was a kid, lightning bugs (fireflies) were one of the main indications that summer had arrived. My sisters and I always made sure to be extra careful when catching them. We only wanted a brief moment with the magical insect. We were always quick to release them back into the warm summer, night sky.

Sadly, my kids have not had the same experience I had growing up. The opportunities to enjoy a good chase around the yard, trying to catch those flashing lights, has ceased to exist. The number of fireflies has decreased over the years due to numerous factors. Not only has habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change cause numbers to decline, but light pollution has played a major role in disrupting the firefly populations.

“Human light pollution is believed to interrupt firefly flash patterns. Scientists have observed that synchronous fireflies get out of synch for a few minutes after a car’s headlights pass. Light from homes, cars, stores, and streetlights may all make it difficult for fireflies to signal each other during mating—meaning fewer firefly larvae are born next season.” firefly.org

Why do we need to protect fireflies?

  1. They are important pollinators.
  2. The larvae of some species are specialized predators. They feed on slugs and mites that can harm garden plants.
  3. They are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, which make them good indicators for scientists to access healthy ecosystems.
  4. Luciferin, the chemical that gives fireflies their glow, has major applications in medical research, particularly for diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and various heart diseases.

However, the main reason we should all care about the well being of the firefly is because they represent the amazing nature that surrounds us everyday.

“They spark wonder in people. When you are in your back yard or park you notice them and are amazed. They are one of the few things that universally give people a feeling of falling in love in nature.” – Sara Lewis (biology professor at Tufts University

Decreasing our carbon footprint and pesticide use will be helpful to the survival of the fireflies. However, one of the easiest things we could do is to just turn off the lights.

Tomorrow, spreading random acts of green.

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