Fireflies May Be Succumbing to Light Pollution

Numbers plummeting around the world
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 1, 2008 8:24 AM CDT
This 2006 photo released by firefly expert Anchana Thancharoen of Kasetsart Univercity in Bangkok, Thailand, shows the rare firefly species Luciola aquatilis, as it perches on a plant.    (AP Photo/Anchana Thancharoen, HO)

(Newser) – From backyards in Tennessee to river banks in Thailand, fireflies are disappearing. And the lights may be going out, said scientists who gathered last week in Thailand, because of human light pollution. Urban sprawl has caused a loss of habitat, AP reports, but it also may be that bright cities are interfering with the insects' love life. Mating males attract females by blinking their lights.

Some 2,000 species of fireflies exist, and they're extremely difficult to track. But numbers have dropped 70% in an area of Thailand once teeming with the sputtering lights.  "When you talk to old people about fireflies, it's always the same," says one expert. "They saw so many when they were young and now they're lucky if they see one."