Declines of insect populations around the world can be caused by plenty of factors. One of them is represented by LED streetlights (diodes that emit white-light), according to a new study from Southern England. Streetlights in general also contribute to declining insect numbers. Other important factors for declining insect numbers are represented by intensive agriculture, urbanization, climate change, and pollution.
The information is brought by Phys.org. Researchers needed to compare 26 road sites that were illuminated by streetlights with an equal number of similar sites that weren’t illuminated.
Moth caterpillars examined
The research team either swept the grass with nets to pick caterpillars up or struck the hedges with sticks so that the nocturnal insects fell out. The results were conclusive enough: there was a 47 percent reduction in the population of insects at the hedgerow sites and also a 37 percent reduction for the grassy roadside areas.
Douglas Boyes, the lead author of the new study and also a member of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, declared for AFP as quoted by Phys.org:
We were really quite taken aback by just how stark it was.
We consider it most likely that it’s due to females, mums, not laying eggs in these areas.
But what happened, exactly? The research team’s explanation was that the caterpillars didn’t know how to respond to the unusual situation. It was contrary to the conditions the insects evolved in during millions of years.
The disruption was more obvious in areas enlightened by LED lights as opposed to HPS or LPS lamps.
The new study was published in Science Advances.