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MNS Firefly Contest

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Help keep the lights glowing #worldfireflyday

Lamprigera firefly larva, known as the Kunang Raja in Malaysia. It is one of the biggest in the world Picture © Sonny Wong/MNS

The 19th century Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore described fireflies as “specks of living light twinkling in the dark” and to see one flitting about today is an increasingly rare but undoubtedly enchanting moment.

While we see the firefly light signals as magical and mesmerising, to them it’s a matter of survival of their species.

Their unique light signals function as dating communication for adult fireflies within the same species is for mating purposes. They are also used to find flightless females on the ground and for giving out warning signals to other male fireflies.

Generally, the light signals vary from fast pulse, rhythmic flashes, slow flashes, and glows. Some species will flash synchronously and some do not.

Time lapsed photo of fireflies ©Hua Te Fang

How do fireflies light up? There are two chemicals – luciferase and luciferin – in the ’light’ organs of the fireflies. When oxygen combines with calcium, adenosine triphosphate and the chemical luciferin in the presence of luciferase, which is a bioluminescent enzyme, light is produce.

Sadly, their bioluminescent courtship displays are getting dimmer due to factors such as habitat loss, light pollution and use of pesticides.

So, it is important to increase awareness of these mysterious, charismatic insects, learn how to protect them and their natural habitat, such as in Bukit Kiara in Kuala Lumpur, which is where the world’s largest firefly from the Lamprigera genus can be found.

In conjunction with World Firefly Day 2020, which carries the theme “Hope Rising”, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), the country’s oldest environmental NGO, is spotlighting some interesting contests from now till 31 July 2020 with abundant prizes for all categories including MNS e-Shop vouchers and MNS membership for a year.

Contests include colouring, drawing and painting opportunities for everyone, from junior nature lovers aged six onwards to adults. Possibly, some winning entries may be part of the 2021 World Firefly Day campaign.

For more family-oriented activities, MNS has teamed up with the Malaysia Origami Academy and Thailand’s Kasetsart University for an origami folding contest.

And for those who have been inspired by the comic artist Jenny Jinya, who explores possibilities of the afterlife for animals, there is also a comic drawing and short story writing contest.

Although registration for the contests is free, please help MNS by donating RM5, or more if you can, to fund their firefly Conservation, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) activities.

To get warmed up, click on these links:

- Website:

If you have any questions, please email MNS at or call +603 2287 9422.

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