Do you have a summer firefly memory? I have many, having grown up next to a wetland. I knew it was finally summer when I would be outside playing after dinner and those little flying lights appeared. I imagined each light was a fairy with trailing long blonde hair like my own at the time.
But like bees, amphibians and butterflies, fireflies are disappearing. While the exact reason isn’t known, three main factors are suspected: Habitat loss, toxic chemicals (which tend to linger in aquatic environments where fireflies start their lives) and light pollution.
According to Firefly.org
“Most species of fireflies thrive as larvae in rotting wood and forest litter at the margins of ponds and streams. And as they grow, they more or less stay where they were born. Some species are more aquatic than others, and a few are found in more arid areas — but most are found in fields, forests and marshes. Their environment of choice is warm, humid and near standing water of some kind — ponds, streams and rivers, or even shallow depressions that retain water longer than the surrounding ground”
As the human population continues to grow, more and more wild habitat will be developed for our use. As long as we keep interrupting forest land with houses, turning meadows into lawns and paving over wetlands, the fewer fireflies there will be — unless we start living in some radically different ways.
The Other Part of the Problem is Light Pollution
Both female and male fireflies use their glowing lights to communicate with one another, to find mates, keep interlopers away and establish territory. Depending on the species, those flashy messages are coordinated — often across huge groups of thousands of bugs. Research has shown that lights — both stationary, like streetlights or lights from a house, and temporary, like car headlights — make it harder for fireflies to communicate. If mom and dad firefly can’t find each other to mate because they’re thrown off by car headlights, young fireflies never get created.
While firefly numbers will continue to decline in some places, in others they’re becoming an attraction. In China, firefly pupae were brought into an urban park to re-establish a colony of the beetles there. “Entrepreneurs are trying to revive the population of bioluminescent insects in special firefly parks. One of the first of these parks, in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, opened this year. The response was so positive that the park plans to open annually (from May through early October each year),” writes Josh Lew here on MNN.
Kids who grow up without fireflies will never know what they’re missing. The bioluminescent bugs are a magical addition to the landscape, but once they cease to exist, they will exist only in the summertime memories of older people. If you’d like to keep fireflies around in real life and not just as a memory, you can help create firefly habitat in and around your own home, with these ideas.
Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet by Doris Brown . Are you familiar with this feeling? Do you gain insight into your emotional and physical self while you run? Do you enjoy the feeling of the wind against your face and the freedom of being outdoors alone with your thoughts? You may feel that after a good run your mind is clear and ready to absorb information. You can also find that your outlook is more positive after a run and that things that were troubling you no longer feel so bad. Well, your feelings have a scientific basis. Research conducted in the field of neuroscience shows the effects aerobic exercise have on cognitive clarity and emotional well-being.
New Neurons Would Be Created
It used to be accepted that we were born with a certain amount of neurons and that by the time we became an adult no new neurons would be created. This however, has been proven to be incorrect. Through research on animals it has been discovered that new neurons are continually produced in the brain throughout our entire life. Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology says that the only activity that is shown to trigger the birth of these new neurons is vigorous aerobic exercise. “If you are exercising and you sweat – about 30 to 40 minutes – new brain cells are being born,” says Postal. So sweating it out on the treadmill or out in the open is doing your brain a lot of good and helping it stay mentally healthy for years to come.
People Who Run Can Recover From Negative Emotions More Quickly
In a study by Emily Bernstein and Richard McNally it was found that aerobic exercise may help reduce negative emotions. Bernstein is a runner and she said, “I notice in myself that I just feel better when I’m active”. She wanted to find out why this was the case and to know exactly the effect that exercise has on us. The study set out to look at the way exercise changes the way people react to their emotions. Participants were told to stretch or jog for 30 minutes and were then were shown a sad movie; the final scene of the 1979 film The Champ. The participants then reported their emotional responses. It was found that those who had run for 30 minutes recovered more quickly from their sad emotional experience than those who had just stretched.
Working Memory Would Be Enhanced
A recent study by Lin Li et al titled: “Acute Aerobic Exercise Increases Cortical Activity during Working Memory: A Functional MRI Study in Female College Students” looks at the effect of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive function. Their study looked at the effect of a session of acute aerobic exercise on working memory. Fifteen young females participated in the study. There were scanned, after an acute exercise session, using a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) while they performed a working memory task. It was found that the cortex and the left frontal hemisphere showed signs of improvement of control processes. From these findings the researchers noted that this indicates: “acute exercise could benefit working memory at a macro-neural level.” Thus, the study shows a connection between aerobic exercise and improvement in memory.
Next time you are out for a run know that you are doing yourself a world of good. Not only are you aiding your brain on a neurological level you are also working to improve your emotional health. Your cognitive abilities such as memory will be improved and your outlook on life will probably be more positive. If you don’t already run, then you may want to take out those old running shoes and give them a try.