Fireflies are one of the quintessential elements of summer, with their flickering lights illuminating campsites, bonfires, and other outdoor activities. You may have noticed, though, that these unique beetles seem less abundant with each new summer. This isn’t just your mind playing tricks on you; fireflies are indeed disappearing, and it’s possible that they could even be completely gone in the not-so-distant future.
Photo Credit: Fireflies via photopin (license)
An article on firefly.org identified two main factors contributing to the disappearance of fireflies: development and light pollution. Fireflies’ preferred habitats are wetlands, fields, and forests, which are being drained, paved, and cut down at an increasing rate.
Where the primary source of light at night used to be the moon, 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 factors in 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. 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.