Researchers believe that street lights could deter nocturnal flies from laying eggs, or increase the likelihood of them being spotted by bats and eaten.
Caterpillars born under streetlights (especially LEDs) alter their eating habits.
They say there are practical solutions that won’t compromise public safety. These include dimming streetlights at night, installing motion sensors, and using colour filters to block harmful wavelengths.
Experts from Butterfly Conservation, Newcastle University, and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology surveyed caterpillars along stretches of grassland at the sides roads in southern England.
Each of the 26 streetlight-equipped sites in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire were compared to a similar unlit stretch.
Surveys revealed that caterpillars were reduced by approximately half in areas lit (47% in hedgerows, 33% in grass margins).
Lighting rigs were also set up in the fields for a second experiment. The LED lights had a significant effect on caterpillar behavior, resulting in a decrease in the number of caterpillars.
Scientists are becoming more concerned about the decline in some insect populations.
A scientific analysis of the 2019 insect population revealed that 40% of all species are experiencing “dramatic declines” in their habitats.
According to the study, beetles, ants, and mammals were disappearing eight-fold faster than birds, mammals, or reptiles. However, other species such as houseflies, cockroaches and houseflies were expected to increase in number.
For entire ecosystems, the loss of insects can have far-reaching effects.
Many birds, reptiles, amphibians and bats rely on insects to provide food, while many plants depend on them for pollination.