Fireflies face challenges, possible extinction across the US



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Chasing lightning bugs on a summer night is a way for many young people.


You know how it goes, chasing the lights shining in the evening sky until you clap in a circle. And then wait to see a glimpse of the little flash in your fingers before letting it go again.

Are in North America More than 170 species of Lampyridae, Or light-emitting beetles, and there are more than 2,000 species worldwide. And they have been around for millions of years.

But you may find that you see less light in the night sky than when you were younger. You can be right, because there are signs The glittering beetle that was once so common – It was fun to catch them – it could be a thing of the past.

Lightning bug or fire: What are those shining insects called?


Short answer: Fireflies are hurting

The fire lamps are being extinguished. The diagnostic evidence says the same thing.


Sergio Henriques, invertebrate conservation coordinator at the Indianapolis Zoo’s Global Center for Species Survival, said:

“If you ask people on the street,” he said, “many people will think of the time when they used to see more and now they don’t see much.”


However, part of the problem is that there is no big data to be able to speak quantitatively or specifically on Lightning bugs.


Researchers across the country like Henriques are trying to change that. They are working to gather more information. Recent and ongoing efforts have been made to better assess the population of power bugs or fireflies across North America and to assess the risk of extinction, he said.


The The results of that research Was attractive – if not disappointing.

The fireflies they surveyed fell into three main categories. The first are species that are considered endangered, and Henriques said there are some. These species have a wide geographical range and that is why they seem to be of less concern at present.


The second group makes up 40% and includes those fireflies where very little is known about them: “They are rarely seen and rarely reported,” Henriques said. This means that even if they are doing well, they may still be in such a small pocket that they are on their way or worse they are already gone.

The last set is the endangered category, which contains about 14% of the types of fireflies. These are species where there is enough information to know that they are declining.

This includes Bethany Beach Firefly (Fotoris bethaninsis), Which is found only on the Atlantic coast in Delaware, according to Xerces Society. The conservation group in Portland, Oregon is working with the International Nature Conservation (IUCN). Documents The plight of fireflies.


Long answer: habitat, light pollution and chemicals

For fires, “the primary drivers of frustration include habitat loss and degradation, light pollution and climate change,” according to the report. State of the Fireflies of the United States and Canada Report Issued by the Xerces Society in January 2022, IUCN And Albuquerque Biopark.


Fireplaces work well in areas with some moisture and humidity – they usually live near lakes, streams, swamps, rivers and lakes or in the margins where these areas meet fields and forests. However, as the climate continues to change and we have more drought-like conditions, the ecosystems and conditions that survive are declining.

The beetles are also losing their habitat for development. Since wild areas or tall grasses and endemic species are extinct in buildings, parking lots and perfectly manicured lawns, power bugs remain homeless.


Another major cause of their distress is light pollution.

Decades ago, there were not so many street lights and street lights. While they are good for city and road safety, they are not good for fires.


“It’s a price for wildlife that‘ sings ’light,” Henriques said.

The light from the firefly is like a whisper, he said, “when your lights are really really big and they drown out.”

The life of a firefly is very short – only a few months – and so there is a narrow window for reproduction. All the lights of the night distract them and can interfere with their ability to find a mate.

Everyone from homeowners to city planners can help fires find their mates, “said Lynn Fost, author of” Fireflies, Glow-Worms and Lightning Bugs: Identification and Natural History of the Fireflies of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada. ”


“Any reduction in nightlight will help fireflies find companions: your rear porch lights, floodlights all night long, brightly lit battleship schools and businesses and cities all the way,” she said. “People personally need to pay attention to all the external lights they use – use as needed but otherwise turn it off.”


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There are some species of lightning bugs that work well with light, but not well. That Includes a species called Big DipperFirefly spotters that will be seen in the backyard in the eastern half of the U.S. will avoid light wherever possible, they can withstand a little longer than others.

One of the other main dangers comes from chemicals: the use of pesticides and herbicides on the lawn. Whether for annoying mosquitoes or annoying weeds, they can destroy applications on fireflies in many ways

Lightning bug larvae are extremely sensitive, so they can be killed by poisoning the chemicals while they are in the ground before the feathers grow. Pesticides can also destroy their food – large numbers of slugs and snails and other types of bugs – so they have nothing left to eat. If the chemicals don’t wipe out their dinner, they enter their system and effectively poison the fires when they feed.


All of these problems pose a threat to fires, and losing an insect family that has been around for nearly 100 million years would be a hoax, experts said.

“The fleeting surprise of seeing fireflies reminds me not to take things for granted – no time, no small animals living around us, no healthy habitat for biodiversity. Fires remind us that we are alive and we are lucky to share the world with them, ”Wrote endangered species conservation biologist Richard Joyce Xerces Society Blog This week, this weekend, World Firefly Day is celebrated on July 2nd.


Beyond their aesthetics, lightning bugs perform serious environmental tasks.

They loosen the soil, allowing sunlight, oxygen and water to enter the bottom. Beetles keep their balance by eating slugs and snails, controlling those critters. And they play an important role in the food chain for spiders and frogs, for example.

“They are an indicator of the health of the soil system,” said Cliff Sadoff, a professor of entomology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “If they are going down, we should pay more attention to the health of our soil and the species that depend on it.”


An ongoing initiative is underway to better see and know the proportion of electricity population across the country. Called Firefly WatchResearchers are urging citizens to follow a process that allows them to measure the number of fireflies they see in a short period of time.

While this is a simple solution, citizen efforts like this can help get a broader brush view of what’s going on, Sadoff said. This can help provide a foundation for starting a more in-depth study.

“If anyone wants to contribute to our understanding of the abundance of fires,” he said, “this is the best way to do it.”

Henriques also said that you can do “small and simple” things to help power bugs across the state. He suggests lowering the lights at night, planting native species, or setting up a rain garden. Option 2: Reduce the chemicals you use in your yard or home.


“Firefly is a privilege,” he said. “If they refuse or go away, the treasure will be wasted.”


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