Blog & Stories

We are very happy to hear resonating stories based on local cultures, traditional values and spiritual perspective of fireflies connected with modern scientific journals and experts.

I Wayan Wardika

Founder Of Rumah Konservasi Kunang-Kunang and initiator of #bringbackthe light, explains the idea behind fireflies conservation at his village of Taro. During an interview with Kathryn Romeyn, a travel journalist for Banyan Tree Compass Podcast.

Looking back, what would you consider your frontier moment? What personal experiences inspired a change in your life that led you in a new direction and catalyzed your current path? 

At the age of forties, there are 2 things which I can freshly remember from my childhood memories: The River and The Fireflies.

I remember spending time almost every day in the afternoon in my village to bath, swimming with my friends, washing clothes and brought fresh water  back home.

Because I had the opportunity to live without electricity, I barely remember seeing and playing with fireflies every night in my home yard, in the garden and the rice field.

This flashing memories always invite me to that nostalgic moments surrounded by the jewels of the night.

My childhood experience is totally different to the current situation to our village, where they were full of plastic. This event was finally lead into my calling into waste management world, just to make the river clean. And thanks God, not only the river clean, but also make Taro village awarded as one of the best waste management system based on community involvement in 2000 by the governor of Bali.

And later I find out, that this activity has a very strong contribution to the fireflies population.

Fireflies was considered as an indicator of a clean air, non-contaminated water and healthy fertile soil. The existence of fireflies is strongly related to the quality of the environment.

 

Thinking of the theme of possibility, where would you like to see the planet 100 years from now? Please describe your vision for the world in a century and what you hope could be reality. (This can be somewhat specific to your work/interests/focus if you’d like.)

Well, to be honest I see the world right now is in the middle of a junction, and each junction can bering us into 2 different direction.

The first one is where we continue with destructive actions toward nature, where we focus on exploiting its resources, this road may lead us to destination where the human being is facing difficult situation where food is become super expensive and very much depending on synthetic substance to develop.

But I see a brighter centuries ahead where sky is fill with stars and earth full of fireflies, like a silent symphony at night. Because we are taking regenerative action in our fulfilment for the food and every body raised awareness to take care of mother nature and preserving all the natural resources. Because all what we have in common is earth right?

 

So looking at the junction we all standing now, we are inviting to all of us to take step to the later one, where every one of us contribute to whatever possible to save our planet and preserve its natural resources available. So our generation don’t only live for the next 100 years, but thousands of centuries ahead. That is one mission on my company at Wise Organic is strongly holding on

Margaretha Noviani

Lights that Will Always Bring Our Feelings Like Home : Light of Fireflies.

Born and raised in a small village in Java, specifically in Gemer Village, Ngargomulyo, Dukun, Magelang, Central Java. A small village with a topography of rice fields, rivers and forests in the west part of Mount Merapi National Park. If I remember my childhood, it’s not a weird activity  to catch fireflies. What fun it was to catch the little creature, observe and wonder why these little creatures glow. With all child curiosity, I am amazed what makes this creature glow. And when our parents find out we catch fireflies, they will tell me that it was the nails of dead people. It scared me, so I had to let go because I was afraid of the myth. However, the admiration for the tiny creature would outweigh the fear from the rumored myth.

Rediscovering fireflies after more than 20 years, in Bali, Tegal Dukuh Camp, Taro Village, Tegallalang, Gianyar. With a difference in myth, in Taro, Bali, fireflies are believed to be the incarnation of Balinese ancestors and the Guide of the Lost Soul. In my mind the myth gives me more belief that the fireflies in Taro are really sacred. Directly connected to the spiritual community in Taro Village. By seeing fireflies in Java or in Taro, when I was child or when I am an adult now, it’s always followed by the same question, why is this tiny creature so magical? In the early 22 ages, I also struggled with my life maybe early mature, approaching the quarter life crisis so the myth about fireflies is the Guide of The Lost Soul always hits me and makes me feel safe because I feel like I’m always lost wherever I am, but with close to fireflies, I hope that my soul with will be guided in the right way.

It’s always calming to enjoy the night watching fireflies, so calming. When we dwell in the darkness of the night, moonless night, without lamp or flashlights, only ourselves and nature. Seeing how fascinating fireflies are, the flashing lights, it’s really comfortable, calming, and will always remind me and take me back to the happiness that we will find with our childhood memories with fireflies. But don’t you guys know what makes fireflies glow?

Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is the ability of living things to produce their own light. Bioluminescence is used by organisms as an antipredator defense in some marine organisms, such as dinoflagellates, squid, crustaceans and jellyfish. Fireflies are included in organisms that can produce light. Fireflies are insects with a taxonomy Class Insecta, Order Coleoptera and from Family Lampyridae. This ability is due to a series of chemical reactions as follows. (Miller, 2014)

  1. Luciferin + luciferase + ATP  luciferyl adenylate- luciferase + pyrophosphate
  2. Luciferyl adenylate- luciferase + O2 oxyluciferin + luciferase + AMP + light

Are you wondering why the fireflies light up at night? Based on phylogenetic analysis that has been carried out by researchers, supports the idea that firefly bioluminescence originated in larvae as an antipredator defense, and only later became into an adult courtship signal (Long et all, 2012). Firefly also uses flashing as a form of communication of various ecologically important behaviors such as mate attraction, mate choice, evaluation of male fitness, deceptive flash signaling to predators, an aposematic warning signal to predators, and species-specific recognition (Da Silveira, 2017).

Until now, the mechanism of fireflies turning the light production on and off is still a mystery. Some scientists think that fireflies regulate light production by controlling the oxygen supply to their photic organs. Some researchers argue that the mechanism is under the control of the nervous system. The interesting thing about fireflies as well as bioluminescent organisms are that they can control their light production. This light acts like a language where each pattern of flashes has a different meaning. Even the different flashes produced have many variations of duration, color time between flashes, and size of the luminescent organ (Miller, 2014).

However, how they produce lights is magical. When we enjoy the evening experience and the fascinating lot of fireflies in Taro, Bali. It’s takes us back to childhood happiness, to a memory in our childhood home, to a time when happiness was very simple and innocent. Memories and happiness that will never be bought and it always makes me feel like home.

Written by Margaretha Noviani

Bali, May 4 2023

References

Da Silveira, B. T. 2017. Fireflies flashing: the good, the bad and the ugly. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319913755. Accessed May 4, 2023.  Pages 2-14.

Long, S. M., Jean-Louis, L., Ramos, G., Richmond, J. and Jacob, E. M. 2012. Firefly flashing and jumping spider predation. Animal Behaviour 83 (1) : 81-86.

Miller, J. 2014. Everything is illuminated: a guide to fireflies and bioluminescence. Naturalist Outreach 1(1): 1-6.

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Br, Jl. Raya Taro Kaja, Taro, Tegallalang, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80561

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