Target: Daniel Ashe, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Goal: Establish sanctuaries that would protect the more than 120 species of fireflies and their habitats in the United States.
The world is home to more than 2,000 species of fireflies. They are not only a staple of warm, American summer evenings, but they have established unique habitats on every single continent, except, of course, Antarctica.
Unfortunately, the insects that set the night sky ablaze with their twinkling lights are facing serious endangerment. Light pollution from headlights, lamplights, and city skylines is negatively impacting the fireflies’ mating routine. The insects use their distinctive glow to catch suitors and breed, but man-made lights interfere with this habit, leading to fewer numbers of fireflies.
Development is also threatening the firefly. Their habitats–the forests and swamplands they call home–are being turned into sprawling industrial parks, suburban neighborhoods, and city centers.
Most alarmingly, fireflies are actually being harvested. The chemicals in their bodies that produce their glow are being used by scientists for everything from medical research to creating shark repellent. One Midwestern company, the Sigma Chemical Co., pays a penny for every firefly that is caught and turned into them for their research. Tens of thousands of fireflies are turned into the company on a regular basis.
America is not the only nation harvesting fireflies and seeing a decrease in their numbers. China harvests thousands of fireflies. A century ago, Japan harvested so many that their population was nearly depleted. However, nations are beginning to realize the danger facing the existence of the firefly. Japan has protected their habitats by erecting national monuments within them and other nations like Thailand have established official firefly sanctuaries. Such steps are ways in which the unique insect can be protected from light pollution, development, and harvesting, so that their populations can never go extinct.
However, despite being home to over 120 species of fireflies, several of which are extremely rare and on the verge of extinction, American environmental agencies have taken no steps to protect the bug. If sanctuaries or conservation areas were established as they are in other nations and even as they are in America for different species, the future of the firefly may be bright. Sign the petition to urge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to take steps to implement firefly sanctuaries.
Dear Mr. Ashe,
America is home to over 120 species of fireflies. They have become a symbol of summer evenings for millions of Americans. However, their populations are dwindling as they face dangers from light pollution, development, and even harvesting for use in the science industry. Should they not be protected, it is entirely possible that future Americans may see a summer without the distinct yellow glow of fireflies.
Other nations in the world facing a similar problem, such as Japan, have taken steps to establish sanctuaries that would ensure future protection of the firefly. However, America has not yet done so. Establishing sanctuaries to protect the firefly population in America would do so much to ensure that their numbers do not decrease even more and that their unique light will never be extinguished. I urge you and the other members of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to take steps to create sanctuaries for these unique natural wonders.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Mike Lewinski