We have been talking about seeing the fireflies in Kuala Selangor for ages and finally took a spontaneous trip with the boys.
Fireflies are beetles from the family Lampyridae. There are about 2,000 firefly species and they are distinguishable from glowworms because of their wings. They love moisture and often live in humid regions of Asia and the Americas. In drier areas, they are found around wet or damp areas that retain moisture.
Fireflies have dedicated light organs that are located under their abdomens. They take in oxygen and combine it with a substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat. The light is usually intermittent, flashing in patterns that are unique to each species. The light serves two purposes – the blinking pattern helps fireflies find potential mates. The light also serves as a defense mechanism to warn off predators against the insect’s unappetizing taste.
If you want to learn more about how fireflies light up, you can read about it on io9.
The fireflies in Kuala Selangor flock to specific trees along the water edge of the Selangor River. When you get to the park, you can purchase tickets to charter a sampan and a boatman to operate it for RM53. You can seat a maximum of four to a boat and they look like this:
The fireflies light up the water’s edge like Christmas trees with fairy lights, blinking in the darkness and occasionally moving from leaf to leaf. We didn’t have a camera so I don’t have any photos. This is a photo I managed to find that depicts the best impression of what it looks like:
Some boats get really close to the treeline to see the fireflies. Our boatman advised against it because we had young children and there are other animals living in the water and in the trees that we couldn’t see. It is pretty dark out on the river (children who are afraid of the dark may not like it) and it is strongly advised that you don’t bring lights because the fireflies don’t like them. Photos are allowed but no flash!
When to go
Firefly watching begins after dark and continues until 10:30 pm. According to one of the staff manning the boats, the best time to go is during the dry season on a “moonless” night because the fireflies don’t like the light and are attracted to the water because they like it.
The Firefly Park in Kuala Selangor is an easy 50-minute drive out of KL but you can also stay there overnight.