Monday, September 01, 2008

FIREFLIES REPORTED DISAPPEARING

Independent, UK - At a conference in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, 100 entomologists and biologists discussed the plight of the firefly, which - anecdotal evidence suggests - is disappearing from habitats as diverse as gardens in Tennessee and river-banks in southeast Asia.
In Bam Lomtuan, for instance, an hour outside Bangkok, the insects were once a tourist attraction, with thousands setting the banks of the Mae Klong River aglow with natural illumination.

Preecha Jiabyu, who used to row tourists out to see them, said that nowadays only the lights of hotels, restaurants and roads were visible. To see trees lit with the creatures so abundant in his youth, he had to row two miles out of town. . .

Researchers in Europe and the US believe urban sprawl and industrial pollution have destroyed the habitat of fireflies or glow worms. The spread of artificial lights may also be a factor, disrupting mating behaviour.

"It is clear they are declining," said Stefan Ineichen, a delegate at last week's symposium. Mr Ineichen, who studies fireflies in Switzerland, said: "When you talk to old people about fireflies, it is always the same. They saw so many when they were young, now they are lucky to see one."