We are all familiar with Fireflies or commonly known as lightning bugs. To me these creatures resemble ‘Nature’s lantern’ which can light up even the darkest corners. But these mystical and charismatic insects are actually beetles and nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae. Most fireflies are winged and are distinct from other luminescent insects of the same family, commonly known as glowworms. Many species of this twinkling beetles are threatened and are listed in IUCN Red list.
Fireflies live in various habitats but they have affinity towards humid, warm environments. Many species thrive in forests, fields or the margins between them. There are many species of fireflies throughout the world, and the most diversity in species is found in tropical Asia as well as Central and South America. are found all over the world, from North and South America to Europe and Asia.
Landour is located in the Lower Western Himalaya, in the Mussoorie Range. Landour is about 984 ft (300 m) above Mussoorie, which itself is mostly at an altitude of 6,800 to 7,798 ft. As summers have become comparatively more warmer in Landour, Mussoorie, fireflies are being observed more than usual across the region. During my interaction with the local people in Landour, Mussoorie, who are staying here for more than 25 years, there were no fireflies in the area. But there is sudden increase in the count of fireflies, which has been noticed recently. There are various reports which show that with the change in the global climatic conditions the ecological habitat and distribution of the fireflies is also changing.
Fireflies signal the effect of a changing climate. One study was undertaken by the scientists in Michigan to understand how climate change can affect fireflies. The study revealed that the warmer springs predicted by climate change would mean an earlier firefly peak, but only if rainfall remains the same. Entomology Professor Michael Hoffman says that one possible reason for the seeming increase in numbers of fireflies in Michigan may be caused by wet springs, a trend that will occur with climate change in the Northeastern U.S
So whether the climate change or some other factor which has resulted in the increased count of fireflies in Landour is an interesting area of study for entomologists.
Alongwith the onset of monsoons and elevated temperature there is increase in the count of mosquitoes also in the area. Over the years the area has witnessed many constructional transformations in lieu with development and urbanization. The forest cover has also deteriorated which has otherwise resulted in high rate of soil erosion further paving way for puddles and ditches which are breeding sites for mosquitoes. Large scale dumping of garbage along the highway near bypass road is also one of the cause which has further disturbed the ecology of this area.
These ecological changes might have triggered the ecological disturbance in the area.The recent reports show that fireflies are dying because of humans killing Earth’s natural magic. There is evidence that fireflies have vanished from many places where they formerly were abundant due to urbanisation, industrialisation, agricultural intensification and light pollution. There are many efforts being carried out all over the world to protect and conserve the fireflies as well as their natural habitat.
There are a lot number of people who hate insects, but fireflies are adored mostly. ‘These tiny little glowing creatures are nature’s little lanterns amidst intense darkness.’
The following incedent gave me insight to write few lines on one of my favourite insects ie Firefly…
It was a humid summer in Landour, Mussoorie. I was lying in my cozy bed alongwith my baby with moonlight streaming inside through the window. Suddenly I observed one small light was twinkling and hovering on my window. Even though my window covered with insect net still that twinkling light somehow managed to get inside my bedroom and was roaming from this corner to that. I was wondering what that could be, is it a firefly or something else. Because within my two years stay in Landour, I didnt come across fireflies. I got up and found that it was a firefly. That little twinkling light brought immense happiness in the dark room as well as in some corner of my mind.
Picture courtesy internet
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