Day and night reversed at Tobu Zoo for firefly spectacle:The Asahi Shimbun


Editor’s note: This is part of a series of videos offering an up-close perspective on the animal kingdom. A special 360-degree video camera system was set up in zoos and other facilities to show how the animals view their world as they interact.

Also visit our special 360-DEGREE LIVES page (, where you can watch all the previous videos.

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Flitting wildly in the Firefly House, about 50 to 200 “heike-botaru” fireflies mesmerize visitors at Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Saitama Prefecture, all year long.

Day and night are reversed inside a 3-meter-high tank to show the fireflies to visitors.

According to zookeeper Tadashi Kaminaga, 37, there are different types of light emitted by adult fireflies. They glow brightly to court mates, while they blink in unison when they are mating. When females lay eggs, they glow faintly and slowly.

Heike-botaru fireflies can live about 10 days after developing into adults. The lightning bugs are active for about five hours during the night. They don’t eat food but drink water from dew.

They are also inactive during daylight hours, meaning that there is not much time left for them to reproduce under suitable conditions when weather conditions are also considered.

“I want everyone to see fireflies living their short lives with all their strength while they shine brightly,” Kaminaga said.

In Japan, there are about 40 varieties of fireflies including “genji-botaru” and “hime-botaru.” There are apparently about 2,000 varieties in the world.

After four years of research, zoo officials found out that the timing of emergence as adults can be regulated by environmental conditions.

The key is to have the pupae spend at least three months in water at 7 degrees, according to the officials, who currently raise about 10,000 fireflies in stages ranging from eggs to adults.

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Fireflies do not chirp. The video includes songs of other insects as part of sound effects at Tobu Zoo’s Firefly House.


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