I believe everyone has memories of observing swarms of fireflies flashing in the dark. It is a tranquil sight to behold and gets etched in one’s memory. But these small glowing beetle are disappearing fast.
Fireflies are a kind of beetle belonging to the family Lampyridae . 2000 species of fireflies exist, most of them are winged that distinguishes them from the glowworms of the same family. These insects combine oxygen with Luciferin to produce their light with almost no heat known as “Bioluminescence”. These insects produce yellow, green, pale red, and even blue light which are a signal of courtship and reproduction.
Fireflies live and thrive in forests, marshes, wetlands, wooded areas where its larvae have sufficient food sources. With increasing urbanization, industrialization and agricultural intensification, these insects are rapidly losing their habitats and are disappearing from across the globe slowly moving to extinction.
Light Pollution is a vicious enemy of these insects. Fireflies glow in the dark just as we remember them to be, to mate and reproduce. The artificial light that we produce in streetlamps, houses and other places disturb these insects making it hard for them to mate. They are also attracted towards artificial lights which occasionally kills them with heat and collision.
Besides these, the wide spread use of pesticides is another contributing factor to these species extinction. The larvae of the fireflies tend to spend up to two years living under ground or under water. During this phase, they are exposed to chemical pesticides that poisons them.
The human population pressure is causing huge spikes in demand for food and other services throughout the globe and all kinds of land environment are being converted causing massive destruction of habitat of not just the fire flies but all other living organisms living in those environments. Riverbanks, mangroves (special aquatic ecosystem) are being converted to aquaculture, agriculture and urbanization. For oil palm plantations and shrimp farming, large areas of riverbanks and mangroves have been cleared off throughout Southeast Asia. The same goes to all other continents.
Thus, we can and must help preserve these species by doing the needful. We can preserve their suitable habitat, control light pollution and subdue use of insecticides in farming.
With the current rate of urbanization and habitat loss including all the other mentioned factors, Fireflies could be completely gone from our sight in our lifetime making it impossible for the coming generation to view these awesome creatures of nature.