Kevin Murphy

ScienceShot: Go Into the (Street) Light

Any camper knows that moths and other flying insects love the glow of a bright lamp. Now a new study reveals that even creepy crawlies are drawn to the light. When researchers scrounged through the grass of the city of Helston in the United Kingdom, they discovered that creatures such as ants, beetles, and daddy longlegs were far more likely to congregate in spots where the glow from street lights was brightest. This could make spotting food easier, the researchers speculate. The effect seems to be permanent, too: The same scuttling creatures stuck around the shiny locales even during the day, the team reports online today in Biology Letters. This suggests that manmade luminescence (two examples shown above) may have long-lasting impacts on natural ecosystems, changing which species live—and dine—in certain communities and potentially reordering local food webs. Now that's one powerful lamp.

See more ScienceShots.