Bright Lights Drive Them to Extinction
National Moth Week, held from July 23 to 31 (visit NationalMothWeek.org for podcast), has prompted the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) to encourage cities to install motion-sensitive dimming streetlights and is working to designate dark-sky parks that could provide a refuge for nocturnal species. The giant silk moth and other insects pollinate 80 percent of our food crops. In turn, their bodies sustain innumerable birds, rodents and bats. Entire ecosystems rest on their delicate, powdery wings.
Only two species of moths are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and three others have gone extinct in the past decade. Many populations are seeing declines of up to 99 percent. Between monoculture crops, pesticides, changing climate, urbanization and decreasing darkness due to artificial lighting, the future of night-flying moths is uncertain.
Their only goal is to reproduce, guided to suitable nesting grounds by the shadow of the moon; many moth species do not even have mouths. However, cities now glow brighter than a full moon, and ambient light pollution radiating from urban areas draws moths to their deaths. IDA Program Manager John Barentine says, “Every time a person turns off and shields a porch light on their house, they’re helping.”
Source: Sierra Club