By Ryan Morrison For Mailonline
Published: 17:00 GMT, 3 February 2020 | Updated: 17:00 GMT, 3 February 2020
Artificial light pollution is threatening the survival of fireflies by disrupting their mating displays - and very bright LED bulbs are making things worse.
A team led by researchers from Tufts University in Boston spoke to firefly experts from around the world to assess the insects habitat and impacts on it.
The biggest surprise the team found was that light pollution, particularly in areas with brighter LED bulbs, were disrupting mating encounters.
They also found that habitat loss and pesticides were having an impact on the population number of fireflies around the world.
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A female glow-worm (Lampyris noctiluca) will shine for hours to attract her mate, yet brightening skies will dim her prospects
Sara Lewis, professor of biology at Tufts University, and her team wanted to size up the most prominent threats to survival to create help predict future at risk species.
Artificial light at night has grown exponentially during the last century, according to one of the study authors, Avalon Owens.
'In addition to disrupting natural biorhythms - including our own - light pollution really messes up firefly mating rituals,' explained Owens.
Fireflies rely on bioluminescence to find and attract their mates, and previous work has shown that too much artificial light can interfere with this.
For example, a female glow-worm (Lampyris noctiluca) will shine for hours to attract her mate, yet brightening skies will dim her prospects.
'Switching to energy efficient, overly bright LEDs is not helping as brighter isn't necessarily better,' says Owens.
Fireflies are one of the most widespread and economically important insect groups in the world with more than 2,000 different species.
The team say longer term data is needed about firefly population trends to more accurately asses how bad the population decline is.
However, using the information they already have, the team created a series of risk factors to predict which species of firefly will be the most vulnerable.
For instance, females of the