AGC Environmental Sustainability  – Nov. 2022

Turn Down the Lights to Increase Biodiversity

By Julie Hoag

Environmental Sustainability, The Amherst Garden Club

      Restoring biodiversity is a current topic for environmentalists, scientists, and citizens. There are many ways to participate in the solution to this accelerating problem: reducing lawn, minimizing pesticides, and planting native species. One of the most accessible ways to make an immediate difference is to eliminate light pollution on your property. 

      The website makes the argument that “artificial lights disrupt the world’s ecosystems.” They recommend outdoor lighting be shielded and directed downward, as well as the use of dimmers, timers and motion sensors, to minimize artificial light in the night sky. These actions have the added benefit of using less energy and reducing costs.

      We are all aware that humans can experience disruption to our circadian rhythms. Other mammals, animals, invertebrates, and plants can also suffer negative effects from nighttime light pollution. Nocturnal animals are more vulnerable to predation when the darkness is disrupted by artificial light. Glare on wet road surfaces confuse toads and frogs looking for wetlands. Baby sea turtles use the bright horizon over the ocean to find the sea after hatching, and bright lights confuse them, decreasing their chances of survival. Migrating birds navigate by moon and star light; city lights can pull them off course where collisions with buildings kill thousands annually. Insects are drawn to light where they fall victim to predators and exhaustion. Fireflies use bioluminescence to find a mate, and excess light makes this problematic. Trees may change their flowering pattern and hold onto leaves longer. This affects their dormancy period and their ability to survive harsh winters.

      The Amherst Garden Club had the honor of hosting Doug Tallamy in October 2021. His entertaining and enlightening presentation based on his 2020 book “Nature’s Best Hope” highlighted the connection between plants, insects, and birds in our local environment. The loss of insects is impacting our bird populations and will affect the entire food chain. He called on us to participate in his initiative ‘Homegrown National Park’ to increase biodiversity in our own backyards.

      The website states: “Research is showing that our porch and security lights are major causes of insect decline. Consider turning off your lights at night. Or use motion sensor security lights that light up only when an intruder enters your yard. If nothing else, replace the white bulb in your lights with yellow tinted bulbs (yellow LED bulbs are the best). Yellow wavelengths are the least attractive to nocturnal insects.”

2021 Memory Tree_edited.jpg

      AMHERST  -  The lighting of the Memory Tree is a 27-year-old tradition in our community sponsored by the Amherst Garden Club. 

      A tree on the Amherst Village Green will be lit on December 9th to memorialize loved ones who have passed yet are still so present in our minds and fill our hearts with love.

       Each light, your light, will be a powerful reminder that we can include those who have died in our holiday traditions.

      For a small donation, $10.00 for an individual or $25.00 for a family, you may have loved ones remembered. The deadline this year is December 2nd. Names you include when you register online will be posted on a board near the tree and listed in the Amherst Citizen. 

      All donations are placed in the Amherst Garden Club Charitable Fund and proceeds are awarded to a community project that aligns with the mission of the Club.

      To participate electronically, we have created a site that is easy to access, user-friendly, and securely served. Sign up instructions are clear and simple to follow. Online access will be available through December 2nd.  Please click here to learn more about The Memory Tree.

      You can also find the Memory Tree signup on the Amherst Garden Club Website at and our Facebook page.

       If you have questions, please contact Doffie Farrar at

The Amherst Garden Club
The Memory Tree, 2022