WOT-first it was the bees...
  Re: (...)
First we find out that the givers of a vast portion of our food supply are disappearing and now I find an article that the little lights we enjoy seeing while eating in the evenings on our decks, porches and patios is disappearing as well...how many mayo jars will remain empty for good once they are empty of their original contents???

Lights out? Experts fear fireflies are dwindling

By MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental WriterSat Aug 30, 12:09 PM ET

Preecha Jiabyu used to take tourists on a rowboat to see the banks of the Mae Klong River aglow with thousands of fireflies.

These days, all he sees are the fluorescent lights of hotels, restaurants and highway overpasses. He says he'd have to row a good two miles to see trees lit up with the magical creatures of his younger days.

"The firefly populations have dropped 70 percent, in the past three years," said Preecha, 58, a former teacher who started providing dozens of row boats to compete with polluting motor boats. "It's sad. They were a symbol of our city."

The fate of the insects drew more than 100 entomologists and biologists to Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai last week for an international symposium on the "Diversity and Conservation of Fireflies."

They then traveled Friday to Ban Lomtuan, an hour outside of Bangkok, to see the synchronous firefly Pteroptyx malaccae — known for its rapid, pulsating flashing that look like Christmas lights.

Yet another much-loved species imperiled by humankind? The evidence is entirely anecdotal, but there are anecdotes galore.

From backyards in Tennessee to riverbanks in Southeast Asia, researchers said they have seen fireflies — also called glowworms or lightning bugs — dwindling in number.

No single factor is blamed, but researchers in the United States and Europe mostly cite urban sprawl and industrial pollution that destroy insect habitat. The spread of artificial lights also could be a culprit, disrupting the intricate mating behavior that depends on a male winning over a female with its flashing backside.

"It is quite clear they are declining," said Stefan Ineichen, a researcher who studies fireflies in Switzerland and runs a Web site to gather information on firefly sightings.

"When you talk to old people about fireflies, it is always the same," he said. "They saw so many when they were young and now they are lucky now if they see one."

Fredric Vencl, a researcher at Stonybrook University in New York, discovered a new species two years ago only to learn its mountain habitat in Panama was threatened by logging.

Lynn Faust spent a decade researching fireflies on her 40-acre farm in Knoxville, Tenn., but gave up on one species because she stopped seeing them.

"I know of populations that have disappeared on my farm because of development and light pollution," said Faust. "It's these McMansions with their floodlights. One house has 32 lights. Why do you need so many lights?"

But Faust and other experts said they still need scientific data, which has been difficult to come by with so few monitoring programs in place.

There are some 2,000 species and researchers are constantly discovering new ones. Many have never been studied, leaving scientists in the dark about the potential threats and the meaning of their Morse code-like flashes that signal everything from love to danger.

"It is like a mystery insect," said Anchana Thancharoen, who was part of a team that discovered a new species Luciola aquatilis two years ago in Thailand.

The problem is, a nocturnal insect as small as a human fingertip can't be tagged and tracked like bears or even butterflies, and counting is difficult when some females spend most of their time on the ground or don't flash.

And the firefly's adult life span of just one to three weeks makes counting even harder.

European researchers have tried taking a wooden frame and measuring the numbers that appear over a given time. Scientists at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia have been photographing fireflies populations monthly along the Selangor River.

But with little money and manpower to study the problem, experts are turning to volunteers for help. Web sites like the Citizen Science Firefly Survey in Boston, which started this year, encourages enthusiasts to report changes in their neighborhood firefly populations.

"Researchers hope this would allow us to track firefly populations over many years to determine if they are remaining stable or disappearing," said Christopher Cratsley, a firefly expert at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts who served as a consultant on the site run by the Boston Museum of Science.

Scientists acknowledge the urgency to assess fireflies may not match that of polar bears or Siberian tigers. But they insist fireflies are a "canary in a coal mine" in terms of understanding the health of an ecosystem.

Preecha, the teacher turned boatman, couldn't agree more. He has seen the pristine river of his childhood become polluted and fish populations disappear. Now, he fears the fireflies could be gone within a year.

"I feel like our way of life is being destroyed," Preecha said.
"Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected, by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table."-Charles Pierre Monselet, French author(1825-1888)
  Re: WOT-first it was the bees... by firechef (First we find out th...)
We first noticed a decline in quail geography, then the horned toads went away, next (blessedly), ticks, and the large red ants. Rabbits are declining also. While creaping civalization is part of it, it is mostly due to imported fire ants! They are a scourge and they are everywhere down here.

I haven't seen fireflies in awhile. I've seen so much change I am growing weary of it. I miss the toads.
"He who sups with the devil should have a. long spoon".
  Re: Re: WOT-first it was the bees... by Old Bay (We first noticed a d...)
I have refrained from responding to this because it makes me so sad. I too have noticed a decline. They used to be EVERYWHERE. Now I see them rarely. Do you think there will be any at all when I have (genetic) grandchildren...(LJ, take that baby out NOW and catch fireflies!)?

When my dragonflies start diminishing, I'm permanently moving to the farm and may cut myself off from civilization forever....I LOVE my dragonflies! To see so many things disappear is disheartening!
Keep your mind wide open.
  Re: Re: WOT-first it was the bees... by Gourmet_Mom (I have refrained fro...)
I'll bet Jane has more dragonfly "things" (jewelry, pictures, things outside, napkins, shirts, do dads, even door pulls) than you. I'm surrounded by dragonflies. Even live ones--they are useful (mosquito control) and quite pretty.
"He who sups with the devil should have a. long spoon".
  Re: Re: WOT-first it was the bees... by Old Bay (I'll bet Jane has mo...)
They're everywhere at my house also! I love them, but especially on a Spring morning when the dew is heavy and spiders have spun their magic. Then there'll be a dragonfly perched just so for my pleasure and the promise of warmer weather to come. That's why I love dragonflies...that and they're so dang beautiful and come in so many different colors...I've never looked that up, BTW...HMMM????
Keep your mind wide open.
  Re: Re: WOT-first it was the bees... by Gourmet_Mom (They're everywhere a...)
Well all, take heart - some species are increasing. Heard on the Canadian radio station last week bed bugs have increased in Victoria, B.C. by 300 to 500%.
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.
  Re: Re: WOT-first it was the bees... by cjs (Well all, take heart...)
I love dragonflies (although, where I come from, they're called "darning needles").

Seeing dragonflies decline in numbers in certain areas is sad for those of us who are so fascinated by them, but in some areas, is actually a GOOD sign. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes (in some areas, they're also called "mosquito hawks"), and the presence of large numbers of dragonflies often means that there are also a lot of mosquitoes upon which they may feed. In places like Honduras, where malaria has not been eradicated, decreases in dragonflies usually mean there are also fewer mosquitoes, and a greatly reduced incidence of malaria.
If blueberry muffins have blueberries in them, what do vegan muffins have?

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