Light Pollution Seriously Harms Insects and Plants
According to a new study, light emitted from streetlamps seriously harms vegetation and reproduction of insects. Light pollution in general has been an issue around the world for years, and authorities have been called to address the problem. The problem with streetlights is that they slow down plant flowering, which is the main source of food for insects.
The study, performed by Exteter University, involved installing a series of grassland plots which contained a number invertebrates during nighttime. Two different light treatments were used – “amber” light, usually emitted by sodium street lamps, and “white” light, similar to newer LED street lighting. The goal was to determine the development of pea aphid communities, especially population density.
The results were worrying – the emittance of amber light resulted in prevention of flowering of greater bird's foot trefoil plant, which is the main source of nourishment for the pea aphid, especially during the summer season. The study, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society journal, has found that the number of aphids declined in mid-August because there was not enough food for the insects. Researchers said that the experiment proved strong impact of artificial light on the environment, adding that lighting up the environment during nighttime results in extreme effects on the nature in general.
Previous assumptions claimed that the bats benefit from street lamps, because insects gather under them, so it is a kind of feast for the animals. However, it has been established that bats are equally active in both lighted and dark places, as long as they have enough shelter locations, like trees.