FOOD FLIGHT — Nocturnal pollinators like this moth in the Eupithecia family were long thought to have little food crop value. But a three-year study on apple trees at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Experiment Station shows nocturnal pollinators do just as much pollinating as non-native honeybees during daylight hours. Apples were chosen because they are one of the top three food crops in the United States. Photo courtesy of Dr. Stephen Robertson, all rights reserved.
“For millions of years, there has been a night shift at work pollinating flowering plants and fruit trees.
“If you look at the diversity and the sheer numbers of moths out there, the other pollinators pale in comparison. So, you’re talking about a massive group of animals that probably contribute not just to fruit crops or crops in general … but to pollination overall, they may just be the most important pollinators as a group… The unsung heroes of pollination.”
Excerpts from Into the Night: Shedding Light on Nocturnal Pollinators
Darkness at night is under siege by an excess of poorly conceived and carelessly deployed artificial light, resulting in a sky polluted with a veil of wasted light and our neighborhoods with no oasis of darkness. Light pollution threatens pollination of our food crops and wild landscapes, bird migration, night vision, human health and our view of the universe.
Doing away with darkness has long been a societal mission and has become a destructive habit. According to the International Dark Sky Association, “Light pollution is increasing at 2x rate of population growth and 83% of the global population lives under a light-polluted sky.”
Municipalities need to enact environmentally friendly artificial light policy; businesses need to turn off wasteful lights at night; individuals need to close the shades of their homes in the evening, especially during bird migration season. Everyone contributes to the problem and, more importantly, we are all part of the solution.