A study out of Tufts University suggests unhappy circumstances befalling fireflies. Once a beautiful symbol of cozy sumer nights, the fireflies are facing extinction thanks to light pollution and the destruction of their habitation due to overuse of pesticides.
"Some fireflies get hit especially hard when their habitat disappears because they need special conditions to complete their life cycle," she said in a statement. "For instance, one Malaysian firefly, famous for its synchronized flash displays, is a mangrove specialist." In Malaysia, fireflies are diminishing because mangroves are being cut down to make way for palm oil plantations and aquaculture farms.
This has only been made worse by the overuse of artificial light, which messes up the mating habits of fireflies.
"In addition to disrupting natural biorhythms – including our own – light pollution really messes up firefly mating rituals," said study co-author Avalon Owens, also of Tufts University.
"Many fireflies rely on bioluminescence to find and attract their mates, and previous work has shown that too much artificial light can interfere with these courtship exchanges," Owens said.
Fireflies are found around the world and some regions rely on firefly tourism for income. "Our goal is to make this knowledge available for land managers, policy makers and firefly fans everywhere," said co-author Sonny Wong of the Malaysian Nature Society. "We want to keep fireflies lighting up our nights for a long, long time."