8 December 09: Fire in the sky near Robina CBD

BIODIVERSITY is sparkling in the night sky at Robina.


A local firefly population has been preserved and, almost as a sign of appreciation, is bringing an incandescent buzz near the CBD.


Enviro property specialist Habitat Environment Management and a local developer are the key behind the preservation close to Robina Town Centre.


Environment scientist from Habitat Environment Management Claire Arthur, identified the site as ecologically significant and happy to report that biodiversity has worked its magic and the site is now a thriving fire fly community.


“The site had all the necessary characteristics to support fireflies and we worked with the developer to preserve the area, but it wasn’t until recently that we were able to go back in and have a look to see whether they actually lived there,” she said.


“We were pleased when we found that our hunch had proven correct and there were hundreds of fireflies buzzing the forest. The developer also bought his children down for a look and you could tell he felt really good about preserving and rehabilitating the area.”


Ms Arthur said that firefly forests are normally small and sensitive and that preservation was integral to the broader environment.


As a rule, we don’t share the locations of the firefly sites as they’d quickly be loved to death. Fireflies are an important eco-indicator. The presence of fireflies will generally indicate that the immediate forest system is in quite a healthy state,” she said.


“While they’re common, fireflies are quite picky. They prefer healthy bushland areas to inhabit. So if people come across fireflies, it’s best to tread carefully and not visit too often. Lest they be crunching the lady fireflies living in the leaf litter.”


Fireflies start to spark up around this time of the year as they begin their mating season, coinciding with the increased temperatures bought on by the summer weather.


“The Gold Coast’s sub tropical climate is perfect breeding conditions for fireflies. Unfortunately recent months have been drier than usual and that’s meant that the fireflies are commencing their breeding season a little later this year,” said Ms Arthur.


“The flashing light we see is the male firefly who’s buzzing around attempting to attract the attention of a female firefly. The females normally reside in the leaf litter of the forest floor. When they see a male they like, they call in the flashing male to get together and make little baby fireflies. I guess it’s the only type of flashing that females find acceptable as courting behavior from males.”


The Habitat team said the ideal environment for fireflies is moist, rainforest type gullies with plenty of leaf litter. Fireflies ‘tail lamps’ are chemically charged, no electrical activity is involved. A common misconception about fireflies is that the light we see is an electrical charge. In fact the male firefly lamp is a chemical reaction that emits no heat.


The term ‘firefly’ is kind of misleading as they’re actually a small beetle. They’re not terribly quick fliers and tend to float through the forest as opposed to darting.


Fireflies don’t spark up for long, generally 20 to 30 minutes around dusk each night during spring is about the extent of their show. The show’s all over by the time the moon rises. Once the forest is fully dark, only the odd unlucky one can be seen flying around trying to find a mate.


Habitat is working with developers to identify eco sensitive sites and collect data including existing vegetation, flora and fauna. They also look at data of adjoining sites and surrounding evidence to create flora and fauna studies to solve environmental problems before they erupt.

To see full news article click here


For more information regarding Habitat Environment Management please contact (07) 5596 3355

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