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Firefly Populations Are Blinking Out

Firefly Populations Are Blinking Out

http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/07/07/firefly-populations-are-blinking-out?cmpid=tp-fbBlink and you’ll miss them this summer. Around the world, people are reporting that local firefly populations are shrinking or even disappearing.

The insect’s dilemma first came to the world’s attention at the 2010 International Firefly Symposium, where researchers from 13 nations presented evidence of firefly population declines and declared “an urgent need for conservation of their habitats.” Since then, additional conferences and several scientific papers have documented regional firefly disappearances, and at least two citizen-science projects are attempting to document the phenomenon, but the full scope of the problem remains to be uncovered, says firefly researcher Ben Pfeiffer, founder of Firefly.org, a website about the decline of the insects, also called lightning bugs.

“It’s worrying,” said Pfeiffer. “When people see a habitat that’s got three, four, five different species of firefly flashing, each with a different flash pattern, it’s an amazing thing. It changes their lives, but few people get to see that anymore.” 

The exact extent of the decline is unknown, but early indications suggest that lightning bug populations have shrunk in many places and disappeared from others. “Everyone is reporting declines,” said Eric Lee-Mӓder, codirector of the pollinator program for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

The causes, however, appear to be clearer: a combination of habitat degradation and loss, light pollution, destruction of water tables, and pesticides, Pfeiffer said.

“You can wipe fireflies out really easily,” he added. “It’s not hard. You’ve got a one-acre plot, and you put a house there. Good-bye, fireflies. They’ll never be there again.” … read more at takepart.com