Cats and dogs may see flashes of light around power lines

A couple of weeks ago the PlexiDor blog reported about cats and dogs being able to see in ultraviolet. The ability makes it possible for many animals to see things humans do not, such as threats that would otherwise blend in with the environment and patterns that can lead to food. 

Being able to see like they see would probably be both convenient and amazing in many situations. Flowers, for instance, may have patterns we will never be able to discern. However, due to human interference the ability to see in ultraviolet might also be terrifying.

The Guardian reports that UV cameras can pick up coronal discharges around power lines that humans cannot see with the bare eye. These lights and flashes correspond with the humming we can sometimes hear around power lines.


Naturally, what we see with the aid of a camera is still not the same as animals able to detect ultraviolet frequencies would see, and the cameras can see a narrower range than most animals, but at least it gives us an idea.


We have known for a long time that animals in the wide prefer to avoid power lines, and the popular explanation has been that the corridors cut to accommodate the lines expose animals to predators. However, with power lines looking like glowing and flashing bands across the sky, they might have an unforeseen worldwide impact. Besides disturbing our domestic friends like cats and dogs, they might interfere with migration routes for birds and prevent mammals from going where they need to be.

Burying all power cables does not seem a realistic alternative, but one idea is to put a non-conducting shield around the cables to screen them from view.

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