Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fireflies at Kg Kuantan

Firefly is a type of insect of the family Lampyridae. Usually found in tropical regions, fireflies can be found all over the world. In Malaysia, the highest concentration of fireflies at any one location is found on the banks of the Sg Selangor at Kampung Kuantan. The species that thrived here is of the Peteroptyx tenor.


The main attraction of fireflies is the mesmerizing flashes of lights that fireflies produce. The light is actually produced through a chemical reaction, bioluminescence, inside a special organ known as the photic organ, located on the underside of the abdomen.

    Luciferin + ATP + Oxygen ® Oxyluciferin + AMP + Light   

Unlike the light that one normally sees, the light produced by the fireflies does not contain infrared or ultraviolet light..

The male fireflies emit light to attract the female in a protracted courtship ritual. Fireflies usually emulate each other’s pattern of flashing. This imitation ritual contagiously affects the whole colony, making the timing of the flashes synchronized..
A species of mangrove tree, the berembang, Sonneratia caseolaris, grows in profusion along most parts of Sg Selangor at Kampung Kuantan. The lower over-hanging branches of the berembang trees have always been a favourite of the fireflies. However, the fireflies don’t always congregate on berembang tress, they also seen resting on other trees.


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Life Circle of Firefly

A female firefly only lays about 15 -30 eggs in the laboratory. The eggs are small, pearl-like, round, and translucent. The eggs hatch after 15 – 30 days..

Newly-hatched larva measures a mere 2mm in length, translucent or whitish , turn to darker shade after it starts to feed. The larva is not able to twinkle, but it lets out a subdue glow..

The larva feeds mainly on the snail species Cyclotropis carinata. C. carinata is a small shell, approximately 7mm long. During the day, these snails can be found resting under rotting palm leaves and in between the grass around the swampy area along the riverbank. The snails are active at night, feeding on algae and rotting plants. .

When a firefly larvae comes across a snail, it will pierce the soft flesh with its jaws, injecting a toxic fluid to immobilize it.

.The larvae will go through a few instars until it grow up to 1cm long. The entire larvae stage takes a few to several months.

.The firefly’s pupa is a stage that is inactive. During this time the firefly undergo a complete transformation, of which it will finally emerge as an adult firefly. The pupal stage last only 9 – 12 days.

The adult firefly lives for only 4 – 5 weeks..

The overall life span for the whole life cycle of the firefly is between 6 – 7 months.
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