Scientists reveal that the fireflies’ magical display of their natural light is under threat mainly due to pesticides, loss of natural habitat, and artificial light.
Sara Lewis, a Biology professor at Tufts University led the research published in Bioscience.
She stated that habitat loss is the leading cause of decline to many wildlife species, as they need a certain environmental condition to complete a life cycle.
As an example, she states that Malaysian fireflies need mangroves and the plants within it to breed, yet Malaysian mangroves and swamps are being converted into palm oil plantations and aquaculture farms.
Another threat that is causing the fireflies’ extinction is the use of artificial light at night.
Artificial light includes the use of streetlights, commercial signs and skyglow, a diffused illumination from urban centers that can be brighter than a full moon.
These lights do not only disrupt our own biological clocks, it also disrupts the fireflies’ mating rituals.
Many of the fireflies rely on bioluminescence to find and attract mates, and artificial light interferes with this ritual.
According to the study, about 23% of the planet’s land surface experiences a degree of artificial brightness at night.
Another factor of the insect’s demise is due to Firefly tourism, a recreational activity to watch spectacular light displays by some firefly species.
This activity has become popular and widespread in places like Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia, and is now affecting the firefly population.
In Thailand, the motorboat traffic along the mangrove rivers is one of the main factors of the destruction of the fireflies’ habitat.
The authors of this research suggests that we need to establish and manage tourist sites and outline the best way to protect these majestic creatures from trampling, light pollution and pesticides.
Co-author Sonny Wong of the Malaysian Nature Society said that the goal of this research is to make this knowledge available for land managers, policy makers, and firefly fans everywhere.
According to him, they want to keep fireflies to light up our nights for a long time.