What's Happening to the Fireflies?
Noticing fewer fireflies? You’re not alone.
What's Happening to the Fireflies?
Fireflies at Ochanomizu by Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japan, 1847-1915)
By Melissa Breyer / treehugger.com
Jun 9, 2016

Every time I write about fireflies, readers roundly comment about seeing fewer and fewer of the twinkling insects as the years go by. And I agree. I remember summers at my grandmother’s house on the lake where the nighttime air was so thick with the coruscating light of fireflies it was nearly sufficient to illuminate the way in the dark. Granted I live in Brooklyn now, but even here in our garden and big parks, the magic seems to be dwindling.

What’s going on? Bees are on the decline; butterflies are suffering, could fireflies be facing tough times as well?

The scientific and citizen consensus is "yes." Malaysia even holds an international symposium dedicated to conservation of the firefly; it includes experts in the fields of taxonomy, genetics, biology, behaviour, ecology and conservation of fireflies as well as members of government agencies, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions, and various corporations – all in the name of saving the firefly. As the New York Times so succinctly puts it, “Scientists have for years been warning that the world’s estimated 2,000 species of fireflies are dwindling.”

And is it any wonder? As the manmade environment continues its undying march into the natural world, where are these things supposed to live? Fireflies breed and exist in the woods and forests, along lakes and streams, in dense gardens and unruly meadows. Where are they supposed to do their firefly thing when those places are paved over and built upon?

Not to mention pesticides and the ungodly fact of light pollution, which has been shown to hamper with their flirting and seduction behavior. (We lose both starlight andfireflies to light pollution? Isn’t that “final straw” material?)

All of it doesn’t bode well.

“Fireflies are indicators of the health of the environment and are declining across the world as a result of degradation and loss of suitable habitat, pollution of river systems, increased use of pesticides in agro-ecosystems and increased light pollution in areas of human habitation,” notes the Selangor Declaration, a firefly advocating document produced at the above-mentioned symposium. “The decline of fireflies is a cause for concern and reflects the global trend of increasing biodiversity loss.”

For real. Fireflies are part of our biodiversity heritage; they are an iconic creature and have played a role in many, many cultures. They are flying insects that sparkle like fairies! They are the epitome of summer evenings, for many of us they served as an introduction to the wonders of nature. If we lose the fireflies, we lose an important invisible thread that connects us to the magic of the natural world. And as a species, we can’t afford to lose that right now.

“Intervention is greatly needed from governments to provide guidelines for preserving existing habitats and restoring degraded habitats for the conservation of fireflies,” reads the declaration. But what can we do?

For several years Clemson University was operating a citizen science firefly count, but they’re not running the project this year. (Hopefully they will resume it, you can check here.)

In the meantime, I suppose we’re left fighting for the fireflies by railing against habitat destruction and agro-chemicals and light pollution.

And we can make our gardens small-scale firefly nature preserves by doing the following:

• Avoiding the use of chemicals.
• Leaving worms, snails, and slugs for firefly larvae to feed on.
• Turning off the lights.
• Providing nice ground cover, grasses and shrubs for them to lurk about in.

It may seem like an unlikely fight, but saving the fireflies really matters – even if it does so indirectly. The habitats of fireflies also play home to many forms of wildlife including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and numerous species of invertebrates and flora. And not to mention their profound importance for us. The more marvels we lose in nature, the less we feel emotionally invested in protecting it. We need the fireflies to continue on their mission as ambassadors for nature's magic!

May they return in droves and flourish.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 9,281 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 5,913 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 5,159 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 3,209 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,688 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 936 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 930 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 897 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 688 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 623 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 623 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
Here's How We're Going to End Factory Farming
2 min · 601 views today · Factory farming is a huge problem. But the solution is simple, if you'll join us. Watch this short 2 minute video to see how... Help make a kinder world possible...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 588 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 374 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Greening of the Self: The Most Important Development of Modern Times
Joanna Macy · 368 views today · Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 336 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 329 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 287 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 280 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 264 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
What's Happening to the Fireflies?