Light pollution—too much artificial light in the wrong place at the wrong time is one reason for the decline in insect numbers worldwide. New research from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) shows that current strategies for reducing the impact of light pollution do not go far enough in protecting aquatic insect species.
Most people are familiar with the sight of insects swarming around a streetlight at night. This well-known phenomenon shows one of the most severe ecological effects of artificial light at night—disruption of nocturnal insect location and behavior. Such is the attraction of artificial light to nocturnal insects, that the light acts like a “vaccuum cleaner,” drawing insects away from their regular habitat and out of their usual behavioral cycles. The effect not only disrupts the insects’ behavior and distribution, but has knock-on effects on the ecosystems in which they play a vital part. For example, nocturnal insects play an important role as pollinators. The recent German “Insect Protection Act” (Federal Nature Conservation Act) has anchored the implementation of insect-friendly lighting as a crucial strategy for biodiversity protection.
Insects and larvae are also attracted to light under water
In numerous studies, Dr. Franz Hölker’s team has been able to show the influence of artificial light on flying and ground-dwelling insects. Now the researchers have investigated the effect on aquatic insects and insect larvae. Inland waters are particularly affected by light pollution as the shores of rivers and lakes are often densely built-up and brightly lit at night.