BENGALURU: Can you remember the last time when you caught or chased fireflies? It is hard to recollect not just for those living in urban areas but also for those residing in villages.
According to researchers, there has been a drastic decline in the number of fireflies even in the Western Ghats. These are indicator species of the climax vegetation. Researchers from Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute (Empri) and Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra (GKVK) have taken up a study on beetle species and their ecological importance. Researchers from Empri have also taken up a study on fireflies titled, ‘Fireflies: The glowing jewels of the wild’.
“One of the primary reasons for their decline is the increased use of artificial lighting. Electrification of villages and use of artificial lighting in the forests have affected them. Fireflies are also facing a threat from tourism activities such as construction of resorts and homestays in eco-sensitive areas. They are now unable to communicate with each other and call for mating because of artificial lighting,” Dr AK Chakravarthy, researcher and principal investigator, told TNIE.
He said their habitat is shrinking because of construction works, especially in areas where roads are being widened. Fireflies are found in the Charmadi Ghat section, Brahmagiri, Lakkavalli, and routes connecting Chikkamagaluru and Kalasa.
A researcher from GKVK said studies in the US and Europe stated that proteins and enzymes found in fireflies help in cancer treatment. It is feared that fireflies are being captured for medical purposes. This aspect is also being studied and discussed with forest and other officials concerned.