Around the world, fireflies illuminate the night with their glittering bodies, but scientists now warn that their “magic” is endangered and that future generations may never have the opportunity to meet these creatures.
The main reason why the number of members of a species is decreasing is the loss of habitat, and the fireflies are endangered because they need special conditions to fulfill their life cycle, claim the scientists from Tufts University in Massachusetts, who conducted the research, the media report.
For example, a species of firefly from Malaysia, known for its synchronized lighting, needs mangrove forests to grow in this area, but palm oil plantations have been planted here.
“Apart from disturbing their natural biorhythm, artificial light affects their rituals during mating,” notes Avalon Owens, one of the study’s co-authors.
Most fireflies rely on bioluminescence – a chemical reaction of their body that allows them to attract their partner with their light, and too much artificial light disrupts this process.
Biology professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex points out that pesticides are one of the main causes of fewer and fewer fireflies. Scientists have established that a “silent apocalypse” is underway in the world of insects, because 41 percent are already on the verge of extinction.
In Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia, fireflie-watching excursions have been attracting more and more tourists for a long time. Massive tourist tours along rivers near mangrove forests in Thailand lead to the destruction of trees and erosion of riverbeds, which further destroys the natural habitats of these luminous creatures.