Fireflies of Bukit Kiara #1

6 May 2017

One of the Firefly Symposium participant, Radim Schreiber, a nature photographer from USA, wanted to photograph the world’s largest firefly, the Lamprigera. First location that came into my mind was FRIM, but due to red tapes, I looked at the other option, Bukit Kiara a public park. MNS member, Koon Hup sent me a photo last month to I.D. two strange firefly larva and I was happy to see that the Lamprigera exists in other green lungs in the city. look  Radim setting up his equipment….

The Kiara Park was full of family, joggers, hikers, and bikers at 6pm. The crowd left before the twilight hours, great, now we are alone. Unfortunately the bright LED lights went on! Studies have shown that certain light wavelengths do affect the adult firefly communications and even the firefly larvae in their later life. So we have to go off trail into the darker areas. It was half moon which made it harder for us to search. Anyway firefly lights are quite distinct if you look carefully.

And here are what we found: 1 gigantic Lamprigera larva about 11cm long, 1 pale colour pupating female Lamprigera which is a about 10cm long, 1 Stenocladus larva, a few adult Pyrocoelia or green ghost glowing around, a few flashing Luciolinae fireflies and one of their glowing larva and one juvenile starworm larva (probably Diplocladon which is from the Rhagophthalmidae beetle family, not a firefly though. The findings are significant especially the diversity and of course the giant firefly. The life cycle for the giant firefly is long especially for the female larva. A study in Thailand has shown that the whole life cycle is about a year long. So the giant firefly is very vulnerable to any disturbances and destruction to their habitat. A latest addition to the to the family of fireflies was a daytime firefly found later by Koon Hup (at the end). So far 6 species of fireflies and maybe more.

britethe LED lamp posts, but the lights were turned off at 10 pm, and that is where the fireflies started to fly freely along the main trail to find their mates. The light may have an effect as fireflies are more active between 8-10pm. So a solution would be to replace the LED with a firefly friendly light wavelength of 596 nm. 18221832_421881601504128_2631744926390965938_n

The Lamprigera larva from the Lampyrinae sub family of the firefly….

fem the pupating female Lamprigera probably nearly 1 year old…..

stenothe Stenocladus larva, a beautiful specimen from the Ototretinae sub family of the firefly

starthe starworm, a common species of another bioluminescent beetle found in

….the city at night, 11pm….

Thank you to Veronica, Kok Hen and Eza for their company……

Then,…..a latest addition….

24 May : One fine May morning 0930, Koon Hup found another firefly.. .. a daytime firefly, fireflies that comes out in the day time. They will have smaller eyes, serrate antennae and may have remnants points of light organ.  Unfortunately, there was no photos on the ventral side.


2 July 2017…. updates from the night walk. half moon, bright night glow , humid and cool. Went down the Keladi trail and spotted only 1 pulsing firefly in the canopy and a very young Stenocladus larva. Back to the road, there was another 1 high flyer and 1 low flyer.  About the same site from May… a giant firefly larva was spotted from a hole in the drain and a starworm was spotted together with another unidentified larva in the leaf litter. No Pyrocoelia was seen though.a very young Stenocladus larva roll up beside a root, came out…. 

the starworm with the flash on (by Steve Page)the starworm without the flash on (Steve Page)

Thank you to Koon Hup and Marcus (grandson), Steve and Misha, and Eza for their company…

23 July 2017 (new moon) with the lights off

We got some help from the friends of Bukit Kiara (foBK) to turn off the street lights for this particular night. This special introductory to firefly walk was for the foBK members but it has attracted an unexpected big crowd.

The crowd started to build up from 7pm….

No street lights, is there any difference, the fireflies are out earlier and found nearer the park entrance.

We spotted a smaller female Lamprigera firefly this time compared to the one above…. FYI the female is nice gold- yellowish and will have only two light organs. The Lamprigera larvae will have four light organs.

smaller female Lamprigera

the two light organs of the adult female Lamprigera

There were three other fireflies spotted, basing on the light signals spotted: glow, slow flashing, fast flashing.

A star worm was also present.

Full story can be found at the link below:

Thank you to the friends of Bukit Kiara and MNS organisers.


March 2017: This was first reported to me by Koon Hup during a night walk. The only Lamprigera larva which I first saw was in FRIM in 1999. This is located 9 km away as the crow flies. Photo courtesy from Koon Hup




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