When you think of summer, chances are that along with warm weather, barbecues, and swimming, you also think of fireflies illuminating hot summer nights. As spectacular as they are to see, fireflies are unfortunately becoming increasingly less abundant, and could even disappear completely in the not-so-distant future.
Photo Credit: Fireflies via photopin (license)
An article on firefly.org identified two primary factors that are contributing to the disappearance of fireflies: development and light pollution. Fireflies prefer to live in wetlands, fields, and forests, which are being drained, paved, and cut down at an increasing rate.
Whereas the moon used to be the primary source of light at night, the darkness is now constantly cut by headlights, streetlights, house lights, and illuminated signage, making it more and more difficult for fireflies to see eachothers’ flashes.
Fireflies communicate by blinking their lights, so if they cannot see another beetle’s blinking, it complicates the process of finding a mate. This reduces the quantity of firefly larvae, which results in the reduction in adult fireflies you may be noticing. Researchers also believe that human traffic, logging, pollution, and increased use of pesticides may be contributing to the decline of fireflies.
Wondering what you can do to help? Look for “firefly watches” in your community, like this one that’s taking place in Delmar on Thursday. If you attend, you’ll learn how to help scientists track firefly populations, as well as actions you can take to make your yard more firefly-friendly.
If you see fireflies this summer, be sure to enjoy them as much as you can! It’s possible they may be absent in summers to come.
- Firefly.org: Disappearing Fireflies
- NYS DEC: Fireflying (http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/65632.html)
- NYS DEC: Five Rivers Public Programs and Events Schedule