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Updated: Apr 30, 2018

Recently at night, it has been noticed that there is a distinct lack of glow worm and firefly sightings. This may not seem to be an issue to many people, but there is the possibility that these two species may be dwindling. I remember catching fireflies in jars at night when I was a kid. One of the reasons for the lack of seeing these beautiful glow worm and firefly is light pollution caused by light including street lights, home lighting, garden lights, all of it.

Abstract from the paper published in Journal of Insect Conservation about the plight of the glow worm and firefly, Impact of artificial light on the distribution of the common European glow-worm, Lampyris noctiluca (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) by Stefan Ineichen & Beat Rüttimann,

“Light pollution has been proposed as a factor in the decline of Lampyris noctiluca because it has the potential to interfere with reproductive signaling and has been shown to impact the ability of males to locate light lures in a suburban environment. To compare and test the replicability of this effect in a natural setting and population, imitation females were set out under light polluted and control conditions at varying light pollution intensities in an undisturbed British chalk grassland. Very low levels of light pollution were found to interfere with phototaxis: no males were attracted at either 0.3 or 0.18 lux background lighting versus 33 males collected at paired dark controls. These background illumination levels are much lower than that of 1.5 lux which is recommended by local city councils in Britain to light footpaths. A survey of female L. noctiluca numbers and distribution showed a trend towards female clumping that was not statistically significant. We also found no evidence of light interfering with female signaling behavior.”

We may see this, if we choose, as a plea from the other creatures we share the earth with for us to be kinder. We are the smarter ones after all? Place solar lights only where needed. You can use solar string lights for parties that you can take down after the guests leave. I was recently introduced to hanging solar lights that could also be taken inside with you.

Suburban, urban and rural areas alike are guilty of light pollution at night. The only way to prevent this is by turning off most outdoor lights once the sun sets. Though the government may yet regulate outdoor lighting in order to help preserve these species and so many others, it’s really always up to us as to how we choose to live.