Future of Fireflies Threatened by Artificial Lighting


Time-lapse photography shows the chaotic flight patterns of insects under a street lamp

For most of human history, when the sun set and night descended it meant that it was time to sleep. But, as our earliest ancestors learned to create fire, they found they could extend their days beyond the confines of daylight–and it was in these flame-lit hours, after the hunts had ended and labor halted, that men and women first began to craft their stories and culture around a fire their evening repose. The ancient Greeks were the first to use street lamps: burning oil to light obstacles on a path or to keep danger at bay. Artificial lighting has come a long way since then, so much so that nowadays many city dwellers can spend years without seeing natural darkness. But, for all the comfort and security we draw from our nighttime lights, new literature suggests that it may be harming species that only know the sun and moon.