Kuala Selangor Fireflies





Fireflies, also called “Lightning Bugs”, are so named as they are nocturnal luminous of the beetle family Lampyridae, consisting of about 1,900 to 2000 species that inhabit tropical and temperate regions. The common glow-worms are a member of this family. They shine in the night like fire to attract sexual partners.

The main factor that influences the growth of the fireflies is the water and the environment. They are mostly found on the “berembang’ tree on the part of the river where the fresh water meets the salt water. They also need a tranquil and clean environment.

Display trees are chosen from species with open foliage (Sonneratia Caseolaris or locally known as “Berembang”) by the Selangor River. Only certain of these trees are selected. “Berembang” grows on tidal streams or coastal area along the riverbank. The fruits are edible, but astringent. Commonly, associated with Acicennia Alba (“Api-Api Hitam”). The same display trees may be used over a long period (recorded up to 5 years), and river men in Malaysia are said to use firefly trees as navigation marks.

Firefly “The Lightning Bug”

Fireflies are soft bodied beetles which sizes range from 5 to 25 millimeters in length with the pronotum extending forward over the head, resulting in the head being largely or entirely concealed when viewed from above. The pronotum is reddish-yellow with a black spot in the centre. Brownish-black wing covers have a light yellowish area entirely around them except in front. The luminous lower end of a male firefly’s abdomen is yellowish-green, whereas the female has a smaller splotch.

It is these “taillight” segments where living light is produced. Most of the fireflies feed on pollen and nectar but for adult fireflies they do not eat. Likewise, some of the fireflies like bees and butterflies, sucking the flower’s liquid and leaves for their survival. Occasionally, in surviving themselves, they trick the other fireflies out of food. A few cunning male fireflies emulate the female firefly in regard to her luminous signal. By doing so, a male firefly is able to captivate other male species, and those are captured in their “love pitfall” and will serve as his food.

What brings the sexes together?

Human beings converse through the language whereas firefly delivers the signal by giving a light. The firefly gives a light, for the purpose of alluring, admonishing, intimidating predatory hunter, illumination, camouflaging and generating birth.

Generally speaking, the firefly with mighty radiance will attract the opposite sex of the firefly. The male firefly will catch the female firefly’s attention if he manages to fly at the most speed, or those manage to fly quite rapidly. Contrary, those fly at a snail’s pace, will not mostly welcome at all. The female firefly will produce a short rhythmic flash that attracts the male firefly. The female will sit on the ground in the high grass to flash to certain male only. The female chooses the male based on their flash pattern. If the female firefly comes across the male firefly that is to her liking, then she will give a faint light.

However, if her body brilliantly illuminated as a lamplight, it is described that she will have fall in love with the other party. After the male firefly received the female affectionate signal, both parties would converse through the medium of twinkling methods. In reality, once the female firefly does not give a light, the male can hardly encounter her existence in the dead of the night. While each firefly species has its own pattern of flashing, some females imitate the patterns of other species. Males land next to them only to be eaten alive. So, keep in mind that its flickering isn’t just a wonder of the night, it is also a language of love.

The flashing patterns are not random. They are species-specific, varying in duration and arrangement of pulse as well as height from the ground. The most critical variable in species recognition is the delay between the male flash pattern and the female reply. They believe that those male fireflies flash at three times each second, whereas female fireflies flash once each second. Some experts think the firefly’s flashy style may warn predators of the insect’s bitter taste. On the other hand, some frogs eat so many fireflies that they themselves begin to glow.

Fireflies do not bite, do not have pincers, do not carry disease and in fact are quite harmless. They cannot even fly fast. They have a life span of two months.


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