Episode 98 - Like A Moth

Yash recently discovered something astounding. Moths fly with their backs to a light because they think it’s the sky and they try to orient themselves to it. And then there’s all kinds of disorientation and trouble for them. Yash touches on the best light for moths in terms of nanometers and placement. You may think they’re just moths but they pollinate an enormous amount of our food. It’s time for the lighting industry to step up and tackle this problem. Yash Sondhi is a postdoctoral researcher working in the Kawahara Lab in the Florida Museum of Natural history. He obtained his PhD at Florida International University in Miami with Dr.Jamie Theobald, studying how moths and butterflies see the world, and specifically how moth eyes and brains adapted to function so well under dim light. He uses multiple techniques (genetics, animal behavior, neuroscience) to examine how different day and night flying insects’ senses (sight, hearing, smell) have evolved. As human civilization develops, artificial light is slowly eroding dark skies with disastrous consequences for animals, plants, and humans. As awareness increases that light pollution is harmful, understanding how different mitigation strategies work is crucial to implement change. Yash is thus studying how light can disorient and alter the circadian activity of insects, and testing strategies to mitigate light pollution. He also contributes to community science and insect biodiversity monitoring in India and Central America.

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