Firefly Watching Ethics

Like the bird watchers or Birders as they called themselves, there are ethics in firefly watching too. Birders do not make noise or make unnecessary movements during a watch. So what about fireflyers?

    If you are watching fireflies:

1. Make sure you do not bring a gigantic, strong spotlight. If you have a torch, use a blue light. Place a piece of blue plastic as a light filter for your small torch. Blue light normally do not disturb fireflies.
2. Get a good digital SLR camera for taking firefly light shows. Use a tripod and a self timer for those fantastic light shows. If you have a simple compact camera, use a tripod or on an immovable object.Experiment around with the camera settings on ISO, exposure settings and pixels.
3. For individual firefly shots (ie for identification purposes and recordings only). If it always fly around without resting on a vegetation, use a specilist insect fine net to catch the firefly without disturbing the rest too much, or sometimes you can cusp the animal with your hands. Do it gently, even though it is a beetle, but they are quite fragile. Put it in a jar, and photographed against a dark background. For close up shots of the firefly use a supermacro with an external light source that is a normal torch light. It is best to photograph the animal against the natural background. If you have a chance to do it without netting it while it is on a leaf, then you can use a macro or a telescopic lense with a flash light setting. Photographing them in the dark is not always easy, so you can try it in the daytime, while they are resting under the leaf, usually the do not move. This is easy for the congregating fireflies,but hard to find the individual ones.
4. Always return the fireflies unharn. Do not keep them too long for photography. The chances of mating is slim and the period for them ‘talking’ to each other through their flashes and successes depends on their communication period window.
5. Try not to or use too much of the insect repellant. No insect repellant when handling a firefly.
6. Be quiet to enjoy the firefly show and the forest.
7. No collection of firefly adults and larvae, especially the non-congregating species, as they are site specific and not many. They do not live long.
8. Watch where you step on. Be on the look out for the glowing firefly larvae, the wingless female adult firefly of certain species, ovipositing female fireflies on the forest floor or the multi light starworm (not in the firefly family but a separate family on its own)
9. No pulling apart two mating fireflies.
10. No smoking please. No littering.
11. Please do report to the authorities if you see any disturbances to a firefly habitat site.
12. Definitely NO squishing, squashing, smacking, or plucking the appendages of fireflies, ie no killing or harming.

    And if you are a firefly watching guide.

There are ways of operating a firefly watching activity. You must make sure that the visitor:
1. Obeys the safety rules- e.g. ‘life jacket’ if using a boat
2. Give a briefing beforehand (on safety, on fireflies, etc)
3. Be aware about the environment e.g. do not litter
4. Do not collect or disturb or destroy the fireflies and the display trees
5. Bring a tiny torchlight for safety reason with a blue light bulb or wrapped with blue plastic
6. Tell the visitors not to use flash photography directly
7. Tell them to enjoy the serenity and do not disturb others
8. Do not walk unguided through a sensitive conservation zone; some mangroves do have crocodiles
9. Have a knowledge of other natural phenomenon, wildlife at night
10. Do not smoke
11. Please do report any disturbances to a firefly habitat to the authorities.

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