STUDY: Urban and Suburban Light Pollution is Pushing Fireflies to the Brink of Extinction

A quarter of the land on the planet is now artificially lit up at night, interfering with fireflies’ ability to find mates via bioluminescence. 

Ever wonder where all the fireflies have gone?

A new study warns they’re being pushed to the brink of extinction thanks to urban and suburban light pollution, habitat loss and pesticides.

For the study, scientists surveyed firefly populations around the world and were shocked by what they found.

They’re calling on governments around the world to provide habitat (basically undeveloped land), control light pollution, and reduce pesticide use.

While habitat loss and pesticides were obvious culprits, the researchers were most surprised about the effect of artificial light on the little “lightening bugs.”

Artificial light includes both street lights, porch lights, commercial lights and “skyglow,” a more diffuse illumination around urban centers that can be brighter than a full moon.
“In addition to disrupting natural biorhythms — including our own — light pollution really messes up firefly mating rituals,” biologist and study author Avalon Owens said in a press release.

Many fireflies rely on their own bioluminescence to find and attract mates. Too much artificial light can interfere with this process.

About a quarter of all land on the planet is now artificially lit up at night, the study found.

And the global transition to the extra bright, blue light of  LEDs is making matters even worse, Owens said.

RELATED: The Dark Side of LED Lighting

Here are detailed instructions on How to Bring Fireflies Back to Your Yard, which mainly involve letting it grow a bit wild.

And here are some incandescent bulbs, which won’t scare the fireflies away so much: