The importance of fireflies goes beyond their nightly spectacle. They play a significant role in the ecosystem and our lives. As viewers, we must recognize their importance and learn to see them without altering their habitat.
What are they, and why do they shine?
First, we need to understand what fireflies are and how they work. Fireflies are a type of beetle whose larvae produce intense brilliance, providing excellent shows in the dark. We can find them at night, in shrines, in public parks, and even (hopefully) in our house’s garden. However, the only way to appreciate them is to stay away from urban light pollution.
The primary way fireflies communicate is through their light signals. With them, they can find partners and mate. They also use them to warn the rest of the community and keep their predators away. We can see that the light they emit is not only beautiful but also has an essential purpose.
How do they turn on their light?
“Everyone is aware of the meaning behind the name “firefly,” but few know how this insect creates its distinctive brightness. Under their abdomens, fireflies have unique light organs. When they take in oxygen, it interacts with luciferin inside specific cells to produce light without much heat.
Most of the time, firefly light is sporadic and glows differently depending on the species. Fireflies use their various ways of shining as optical signals to locate potential partners.” (National Geographic)
Where can we find them in Mexico?
Tlaxcala is the most well-known location to see them in Mexico, but we can also find them in the State of Mexico, Puebla, and Michoacán.
In this region of the country, we may find Photinus Palaciosi fireflies. This particular type of firefly can sync with one another, creating a nighttime show that draws the attention of countless travelers. This group is distinguished because they carry out their reproduction throughout May through July (high humidity season). According to Tania López, a doctoral candidate specializing in fireflies, these insects “appear in those months since they finish their life cycles as larvae and pupae and fly off as adults. The abundance of resources and the high humidity level during this season allow the eggs to stay warm.
The primary ecotourism destinations for fireflies are Canto del bosque, Xoletongo, Mi Pueblo, Las 4E, and Quinta Valentina, all of which are located in the municipality of Nanacamilpa. The tour season runs from 17 June to 14 August. The hikes start around dusk and continue into areas where artificial light and sound are barely audible.
State of Mexico
Due to the cold, humid temperature of the forest, Amecameca has become an ideal location for fireflies. Up to 240,000 fireflies can be seen per acre along the Firefly Route, including Rancho del Valle, Esmeralda Forest, and Chalma Ecotourism. Locals in the area are also committed to safeguarding the ecosystem and insects.
Tourists may see them in Puebla at Ejido Santa Rita Firefly Sanctuary. Here, they provide a journey through 13 paths where we may see the fantastic display of firefly reproduction. Additionally, the maintenance of the nation’s ecosystems is also gambled on through social dynamics.
Here three other ecotourism facilities, Los Ailes, Juanikua, and San Vicente, are in charge of organizing fireflies trips in Tlalpujahua.
Why are fireflies important?
These glowy insects are lovely for more reasons than just the fact that they can light themselves up. “As both predators and prey, fireflies are essential to ecosystems. Slugs and earthworms are helpful insects for crops and gardens since they are snail predators “. — Sarina Jepsen, Xerces Society’s director of endangered invertebrate programs. In habitats where rain, humidity, and light conditions are ideal for mating and survival, their existence is a sign of a healthy and balanced ecosystem. In other words, they enable us to learn how well mangroves, rice fields, marshes, pastures, woodlands, agricultural areas, and even urban parks are being conserved.
What comes next?
Finally, air pollution is not the only one that damages the environment. Animals like fireflies and their reproductive system are also impacted by light pollution.
Visits to these insects’ sanctuaries wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, we must be very cautious and aware o how we must behave. For instance, please stay on the trail and avoid illuminating it in any way, avoid catching them, don’t speak loudly, etc.
Unfortunately, the phenomenon of fireflies has been declining due to human activity. So, it is essential to be conscious of their significance and how we can preserve them.
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