Fireflies Blink in Synch to Send a Clear Message

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A time lapse photo showing off an abundance of fireflies.
For decades, scientists have speculated about why some fireflies exhibit synchronous flashing, in which large groups produce rhythmic, repeated flashes in unison — sometimes lighting up a whole forest at once. Now, the first experiments on the function of this phenomenon suggest that synchronous flashing preserves female fireflies’ recognition of suitable mates.
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Future of Fireflies Threatened by Artificial Lighting

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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.

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Chasing Rare Orchids And Fireflies In Central Colorado

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Filoha Meadows in central Colorado

A refuge for the Ute Indians and a transit corridor for the marble quarried for the Washington Monument, Filoha Meadows in central Colorado has been used as farmland, an arthritic retreat center, and a movie set. Developers eyed it to build 15,000 square-foot homes, while others envisioned the entire area under the waters of a dam. But people seeking to preserve the meadow as open space were the ones who succeeded–even though they didn’t even really know what they had there.

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