At Mandarina Duck, we love nature and the city pretty much equally. That’s why we make bags that can stand the challenges of both. That’s also why we’d like to share a science project turned accidental work of art that explores the effects of artificial light on plants and animals.
Almost nowhere in the urbanized parts of our global countries and cities is it possible to see the stars during the night. The nightly darkness is overpowered by streetlights, light from traffic and houses – what is called light pollution.
Apart from the sad consequence that the starry skies – which have inspired so much thought, art and science – are practically invisible to us today, there are other consequences we don’t yet know about.
The University of Wageningen in Holland decided to conduct an experiment in order to find out. Together with the Dutch Institute for Ecology (NIOO), they built a set of coloured cubes which are placed in a pasture, in which caterpillars of a nocturnal butterfly are then studied to observe the effect of this unnaturally lighted environment on them: an environment that mimics the intensity of light in our cities at night.
Someone who doesn’t know what this set-up is for may think it looks like a playful and colourful art installation, placed in an eerie landscape, for our aesthetic pleasure.
It has a beauty, however, that results in the worrying conclusion of the project: the caterpillars are confused by the light, which causes them to die. Usually, they cocoon in the fall, when they wait for winter to pass, so that they can develop and reveal their metamorphosis as butterflies in the spring, when the days grow longer and there’s more light.
As could be expected, caterpillars who are exposed to more light, simply skip this stage. They immediately turn into butterflies, flying into a harsh winter.
It’s important we’re all aware of the effects of humanity on our one and only planet. A stunning piece of scientific work like this one, may be the best way to draw people’s attention ….