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Of Mayflies, Moths, and Bats

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#1 Johnmiod

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Posted 27 May 2024 - 08:45 PM


Personal ramblings and observations of environmental changes witness by your truly (in less than 15 years).
Food webs and extinction.  Can it be light pollution?

I have lived in rural upstate New York for 60 years.
The 1980's were the trout flyfishing (northeast) years for me.  There was a lot of talk about mayfly hatches that were declining.  Didnt know why but  thought it was and maybe due to stream pollution.  Now because of sites like DarkSkies.org and their education of how hatched sea turtle are attracted to the artificial lights on shore rather then going ocean bound.  I can draw a parallel.. (some) mayfiles do a similar thing, are attracted to the light of riffles in the stream during evening (to lay eggs).  With more houses and development along streams, and their lights, where have all the insects gone?  I used to drive home in the evenings and the front of my vehicle would be covered with bugs, no more.

During the same time I had a porch light that if left on would attract all sorts of moths and lots of bugs. Must of had a dozen different moths and some really strange looking bugs.  A small frog would occasionally climb up outside wall waiting for some tasty morsel to come by.  Dont know where it came from, i am not near any water.  Have not seen anything for several years now.

Not done yet.  In the evening there were bats, about two dozen, every evening, all summer flying around my backyard.  No more, I think I saw one or two briefly last summer.

And of course I am a amateur astronomer.  I just bought a sky meter to help document the increasing sky brightness.

Sorry, as I write this in sadness, and I just wanted to vent.








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#2 Barlowbill

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Posted 27 May 2024 - 08:57 PM

I still have bats here in Tulsa.  Been at this house 12 years.  Always see them in spring and summer.  I have seen a decline in Lighting Bugs.  Not so many around anymore.



#3 Couder

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Posted 27 May 2024 - 10:34 PM

We rarely get out at night driving, so I don't know about a decrease in bugs on the car. But, we feed the birds year-round with sunflower seed, 2 kinds of suet, peanut nuggets, and peanuts for the regulars at our feeders, and of course in the spring/summer sugar water for the hummers; and grape jelly for the Baltimore Orioles. I made houses for many of the species, plus for the butterflies and bats. We have very few bugs flying around, and we live in the middle of 100 acres, maybe 2/3 wooded.

We feed the Purple Martins when it is too cold to "go bugging" by flipping crickets in the air. The picture is my wife flipping crickets with a plastic spoon. (We buy the crickets from a dealer) the second picture is Martins catching crickets.

We feed more animals, but I figure the birds and bats are keeping the bugs down.

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#4 aatt

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 12:01 AM

Upstate NY in the 80’s was severely impacted by acid rain. Acidification kills fish indirectly. Post 1992 Basel convention where sulfur dioxide scrubbers were retrofitted on coal fired power plants or the old ones were phased out, pH issues started to rebound in the right direction and yet not enough. Sulphuric dioxide is only one source of acidification.I can’t say anything with certainty, but there were large scale community changes as a result of fish die offs and these may have impacted mayflies. Pure conjecture here. Light might be a part of it too, but I think there are more than just these two things going on. Chemical pollution is another.
As to bats, they are succumbing to white nose syndrome a fungal disease not unlike what’s targeting frogs resulting in severe declines to out right extinctions of many species.
Habitat fragmentation from development is also a part of the equation as well as invasive species.
We have created a huge juggernaut of nefarious factors, which light pollution is just beginning to be understood as a major factor- particularly with flying insects.
I too have noticed precipitous declines in firefly populations in my area that are seemingly coupled to the introduction of led streetlights and the massive increase in light pollution that came with them ( someone got a Noble prize for this…..).
Insects on the radiator grill have been a thing of the past for well over a decade.
These things should scare the heck out of everyone, because if insects go, so do we and in fairly short order. All our fancy toys can’t replace what they do for us.

#5 EJN

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 12:15 AM


,,,because if insects go, so do we and in fairly short order.

 

Right now we've got these by the billions in IL. Want some?

IMG_1495p.jpg


Edited by EJN, 28 May 2024 - 12:21 AM.


#6 dx_ron

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 08:30 AM

A good phrase to google to get a foothold in the scientific studies is "insect population decline".

 



#7 KD5NRH

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 12:27 PM

I went for a late stroll last week, and about the same time I realized I wasn't having mosquito problems, I spotted some dark shapes zipping back and forth between me and the house lights.  Apparently, the Mexican freetails have figured out that people attract bugs, so they'll circle for an easy meal.

 

Had the same thing happen back in 2022 while I was getting some video of a cloudy sunrise over Mule Ears in Big Bend NP, but only one bat.  When I worked overnight security several years back, on perimeter patrols, there was a great horned owl that would glide overhead, back and forth along my path, grabbing rodents that I'd spooked out into the mowed part of the yard.



#8 kksmith

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 09:21 PM

For as long as there have been house lights/street lights near trout streams, mayflies have been drawn to them. The important stuff like mating flights and spinner falls still happen stream side. I found in Northern NY...Saranac River/West Branch Ausable, most of the truly productive hatches started to peter out with the onset of summer/hot weather. You'll have the tricos, and the muck dwellers like the big sulphers, hexagenias, and if you're really lucky - Efphron Leukons. But the big hatches have petered out. Hot weather and summer are the slow times for hatches unless you're on the water during dark. Smaller streams rambling through tree canopied flows - slightly different story. Cooler water for longer periods. Caddis rule in summer. 

 

The bigger problem presenting itself...warmer stream flows and Didymosphenia germinata aka didymo, aka rock snot. This stuff has just bloomed all over East coast and Mid-Atlantic rivers, streams. Covers the river bottom with slimy, slippery, algae during summer, and suffocates a lot of bottom insect life. Also lots of spring high water runoff doesn't help either...river bottoms are scoured along with insect life. 


Edited by kksmith, 10 June 2024 - 10:54 PM.


#9 MCars

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 10:06 AM

Mayflies on the Susquehanna river between Wrightsville & Columbia PA. Many times they close the bridge to traffic. Just to slippery to drive. Now lights are tuned off the first week of June.



#10 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 12:14 PM

The AA Harrisburg Senators ballpark is located on City Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River.  I haven't been to a game yet this year but in years past tens of thousands of mayflies would be attracted to the stadium lights.

 

My wife and I had a late dinner at a local restaurant not too far from the river recently.  When we went out to our vehicle, which was parked near a light pole, it was covered with mayflies.



#11 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 12:15 PM

I still have bats here in Tulsa.  Been at this house 12 years.  Always see them in spring and summer.  I have seen a decline in Lighting Bugs.  Not so many around anymore.

https://www.usatoday...ed/70257108007/



#12 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 12:43 PM

https://www.firefly.org/


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#13 PXR-5

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 03:07 PM

Last night I saw about 3 fireflies.

When I lived in NC I rarely saw them, when I was a kid there were literally 100s in the yard and a dozen in my jar.
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#14 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 06:08 PM

I've seen a number of fireflies the past week or so but not a lot.




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