Fireflies illustrate a magical light in the night and give you an unrivalled experience as you cruise along the river in Kuala Selangor, surrounded by the pitch black curtain of the night sky. Contrary to what most people would perceive Kuala Selangor as a bustling city-state, Kuala Selangor is also home to one of the highly endangered fireflies. Due to factors such as light pollution and loss of habitat, Kuala Selangor is one of the few remaining places in Malaysia that will allow you to have a glimpse of the living natural light bulb. Read on for more fascinating facts regarding to Kuala Selangor’s best kept secret!
The mesmerising light produced by the firefly
Kuala Selangor is not only famous for the Melawati Fort, Dutch Hill and silvered leaf monkeys. When you think Kuala Selangor, you’d definitely want to pay a visit to the enchanting colony of fireflies. This experience of witnessing these wonderful natural flickering lights at night is truly a magnificent sight. These stunning creatures are also known as ‘Kelip-Kelip’ in Bahasa Malaysia and can be found along the Selangor River.
Fireflies, also known as ‘Lightning Bugs’ are easily found around a species of mangrove trees called Berembang. Berembang trees usually grow in the wild along the banks of Selangor River as the conditions of the swampy and damp environment provides an ideal breeding ground. Fireflies can be found here as these mangrove trees act as a source of food for the unique light creatures and also helps filter the impurities and toxic wastes from the river for the other wildlife that benefit from it. The fireflies here are of the ‘pteroptye tener’ species and have a lifespan of approximately 2-3 months. Fireflies actually shine during the day as well but the light is not visible to humans. Only firefly larvae produce this wonderful light and can appear in three colours: yellow, orange or even green. Some species of adult fireflies are cannibals as well, feeding on other firefly species while the others live off nectar, pollen or nothing at all! Read ThoughtCo's 10 Fascinating Facts about Fireflies and Lightning Bugs to learn more about 'lightning bugs'.
Firefly-watching at Kuala Selangor was initially something that local and international scientists did for their scientific research along Selangor River some decades ago. A boat service was started by a fisherman villager to transport the scientists back and forth along the river. His knowledge of handling Selangor River greatly benefited the scientists and they were able to do much research there thanks to him. Later, news about there being fireflies at Kampung Kuantan spread and residents from Kuala Lumpur took an interest in going to see them. Since then, the villagers of Kampung Kuantan started offering boat rentals to visitors for firefly-watching and finally, in 1989, a Malaysian utility company started a collaboration with the local council to build a jetty. Thus, a proper system was put into place. A ticket counter and a boat rotation schedule was also started. Kampung Kuantan was then known as Kampung Kuantan Fireflies Park from that day onwards.
The trip to witness these magical creatures that still exists in this era, will rarely leave the visitors disappointed as Kuala Selangor is said to have the largest colony of fireflies in the region. Fireflies can be seen at Kuala Selangor throughout the year; however, the best time to see fireflies are on a dry, moonless night. To avoid having a fruitless trip to Kuala Selangor, there are a few quick tips that you will need to bear in mind. Avoid planning a visit during a full moon night or during a rainy evening as the fireflies will not show up in their usual colony size. Rain, strong wind or lightning may cause the fireflies to be inactive.
While there are no particular best season to watch fireflies, your trip to Kuala Selangor may be depending on your luck. It is best to plan your visit to watch the fireflies illuminate the night sky before 11.00pm as that it is when the mating ritual dwindles. Once the fireflies found their desired mate which is expected to be around 10pm, the creatures will eventually stop glowing. If you wish to avoid the crowd for a peaceful fireflies sighting journey, the best time for the fireflies tour would be during the weekdays.
Getting to Kuala Selangor can be done by bus, taxi or a self-driven car. From Kuala Lumpur, the drive to Kuala Selangor is a short one and should not take too long over an hour for you to arrive at your destination. Via bus, board the Selangor Bus No. 100 from Medan Pasar Bus Hub in Kuala Lumpur which departs every half-hour from Kuala Lumpur between 6:30am to 7:30pm. Alternatively, you can take any bus from Kuala Lumpur to Klang where you can then take the Cityliner bus to Kuala Selangor / Bandar Malawati. Once you are there, your options for getting around within the small town may be a little more limited but not to worry, you can depend on your own two trusty legs or a some taxis hanging around the area.
Stunning fireflies amongst the berembang trees catching the attention of the travellers
Only a mere 9km from Kuala Selangor, Kampung Kuantan is one of the spots where you can view the mesmerising light show by the fireflies in the evening. The journey is just slightly over an hour by car. Opening hours of this attraction are from 8.00pm to 10.30pm daily (except for rainy days). Here, you can hire a local boatman as your guide and he will arrange a cruise on an eco-friendly rowing boat. This boat takes you up along one side of the river and returns on the other side. Each boat is charged at RM50 and can fit up to 4 people. There are also several nice seafood restaurants nearby such as the more known Restoran Kuala Selangor at Pasir Penambang. Check out Adventoro's Kuala Selangor & Fireflies River Cruise that includes a magical boat ride and lovely seafood dinner to end the night with at Kampung Kuantan.
Searching for fireflies in the night
About 15 minutes from Kampung Kuantan, lies the Fireflies Park Resort in Kampung Bukit Belimbing, where firefly tours are run privately every night. The operating hours of the fireflies tour starts at 7 pm and last for 30-45 minutes. The last tour is usually at 10 pm but it may vary depending on the weather. The cost of the ticket for the Kuala Selangor fireflies tour is RM15 per pax on electric boats instead of man-powered boats. These boats are environmentally friendly as they run on batteries and are very silent, in order to help preserve the Fireflies Sanctuary ecosystem. Each boat provides a hard canopy and each person who boards the boat will be equipped with a life jacket. The tour takes you up along one side of the river and comes back on the same side. While there are no specific written rules for the fireflies sighting tour, no pictures are allowed to be taken as to not disturb the fireflies. Further along the river, be mesmerised by the swarm of fireflies near the Berembang trees.
If you wish to spend the night in Kuala Selangor, there are chalets ready to accommodate you at the Kuala Selangor Firefly Park; otherwise, you can just take a round trip from Kuala Lumpur as it is only a 40-minute drive. Head over and check out Adventoro's Nature Park & Firefly Extraordinaire that includes this overnight firefly experience. There are several modes of transport you can take, one is to board a bus from the Puduraya bus station nearby Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur before switching to another bus that enters into the firefly park. This will probably only cost you a couple of ringgits. Another option is to get a taxi to Kuala Selangor, usually priced around RM50 one-way, but it can be a challenge to take a taxi back to Kuala Lumpur at a normal rate. However, you can try to make a deal up front with your driver as it will cost a lot more if you want the taxi driver to wait for you. The last option is by car rental with prices varying from RM100 to RM150 a day.
The remarkable light produced by a firefly as the unique creature rests
Many are in awe of the stunning light from a firefly, but do you know how the light is produced? This ‘cold light’ that is displayed by the fireflies are produced in a process called bioluminescence, which is found in bacteria used by male and female fireflies. Fireflies are so special because they are the only bioluminescent insects, while there are others who glow, only fireflies can flash. These unique creatures of light are able to regulate the airflow entering their abdomen and are hence able to create pulsating patterns of light.
Communication between a male and female firefly by light
Fascinatingly, some firefly species use their light to communicate between males and females during mating season. You can tell a female firefly apart as they are usually short-winged or stationary, meaning they are secured to tips of leaves or stems and they carry on an enticing dialogue with the wandering male fireflies, trying to draw them to mate. Female fireflies will communicate by means of displaying brief rhythmic flashes. The female fireflies will pick the males based on their flash patterns. Thanks to the mating ritual of the fireflies, the illuminating lights will be decorating the pitch black, untouched part of Kuala Selangor.
Mating signals are unique to each species of fireflies in order to avoid confusion with other species in the surroundings. The fascinating fact about each species is that their light patterns and colours vary accordingly, as well as the duration of the flashes as some species flash their light when they are flying and some display their flash when they are resting and not mid flight. You may even catch sight of synchronised flashing of the fireflies and this exceptional twinkling of lights are truly a pleasure to witness. In addition to attracting the opposite sex, the flashes are also used to ward off predators by appearing distasteful.
If you have found your way to Kuala Selangor for an up-close experience with the fireflies, there are a few more things and attractions at Kuala Selangor that will continuously keep you charmed. Don’t forget to treat yourself for a scrumptious seafood meal before heading back to the city as this place is famous for the freshest catch from the sea. Besides the sightseeing tour of the fireflies, expect to be greeted with the sights and smell of the nearby fishing villages. At the end of your visit to Kuala Selangor, you will be rewarded with a memorable experience and a different story that would leave most envied!
The breathtaking scene of fireflies flittering by the river
These fascinating fireflies were even included in CNN’s Top 5 Day Trips to Take from Kuala Lumpur, so don’t miss out on this experience of a lifetime! Fireflies are truly unique creatures and can be found in several locations across Malaysia. Get started on your adventure and also check out other tours by Adventoro.