Dark new moon night and a tree lit up by twinkling lights! Many of us have fond memories of tiny intriguing fireflies, which often light up the darkest hour with dancing and flying lights. But, yes, they are densely present only in memories. We have lighted up each dark corner of our surroundings with electric bulbs and we no longer notice these small glowing insects! Have our lights driven them further away?
Experts feel there may be another reason for not noticing these tiny insects, their numbers may be actually dwindling like rest other endangered species on this planet. More than 100 entomologists and biologists attended an international symposium on the ‘Diversity and Conservation of Fireflies’ at Chiang Mai, Thailand to discuss future of tiny fireflies.
Reseachers find it difficult to study these tiny elusive insects and their behaviour patterns. There are more than 2000 species of fireflies. Male fireflies are known to flash lights to send out mating signals to female species. The pattern of flashing lights may differ and have other meanings as well. This code, which is similar to Morse code, is yet to be cracked.
Experts feel that artificial lights may be disrupting the signalling and hence the mating behaviour, leading to the decline in their reproduction. Moreover apart from artificial light and sound pollution, even environmental pollution could be killing these small insects. Researchers are trying out websites to gather more information about behaviour and decline of fireflies from all over the globe. But they fear it may already be too late.
Human beings have encroached and disturbed many a habitats of sensitive and diverse species on this planet. Fireflies soon may be declared endangered. What makes their conservation case worse is that very little is known about them to make any efforts to preserve their habitats and save them from extinction. Future generations will not believe that with so much technology at hand we could not save these tiny natural dancing lights!