As the sun sets in the Japanese town of Tatsuno, thousands of fireflies begin glowing, producing a spectacle that usually draws crowds of delighted visitors, but this year, the dance of the incandescent insects is being performed without spectators, after COVID-19 prevention measures forced organizers of a popular firefly festival to cancel the event.
The decision might have disappointed fans of the brilliant bugs, but it provides an unusually serene atmosphere as the insects blink on and off, appearing to dance through the black night air.
The natural spectacle lasts just 10 days in early summer and is the final chapter of a firefly’s life.
“The glowing is the courtship behavior of fireflies. They glow to communicate between the male and the female,” said Katsunori Funaki, from the city’s tourism division.
“During the short, 10-day period, they find a partner and lay eggs for the next year,” he said.
When conditions are right, with neither rain nor wind, as many as 30,000 fireflies perform their magic during the 10-day period in Tatsuno, a town set on a river in central Nagano Prefecture.
“Historical records say a massive number of fireflies were seen along the Tenryu River in the late 19th through early 20th century,” Tatsuno Mayor Yasuo Takei said.
However, the creature almost died out in the area, as silk production and other industries flourished further upstream, creating pollution.
After World War II, the town worked hard to restore the environment and protect fireflies, and the insects now attract tens of thousands of visitors during the annual summer firefly festival.
“When we have lots of fireflies, we get a spectacular landscape full of lights, with both stars and glowing fireflies reflected in the water,” Takei said.
Fireflies are often said to be evidence of a pristine natural environment, but the insects only thrive when other conditions are also met.
“To help fireflies, we need to have a snail called kawanina,” Funaki said.
Fireflies spend about nine months of their year-long lifecycle growing in fresh water, and baby insects grow by eating the snail, Funaki said.
The town has also created a park complete with ditches to bring in fresh water from the river and waterfalls to produce an oxygen-rich aquatic home for the insects.
The silence of this year’s mating season makes the ritual all the more poignant, Takei said.
“The brief shining of the light is so impressive, making me feel that I also have to live my best,” he said.
Firefly festivals are staged around late June in many parts of Japan, and the glowing courtship ritual has long been celebrated in the country.
“This may be part of Japan’s unique aesthetics, but they are so precious to us because we can only see them for a short period of time,” Takei said.
Festival organizer Tatsuki Komatsu said he felt the insects were “looking for a partner more freely with no humans around,” but said he hoped the festival could be held again next year.
“Fireflies are a creature that grows over a year and flies for only 10 days to leave behind the next generation before dying,” he said.
“We want to take care of them so that they will leave eggs for next year and we will once again see fireflies dance wonderfully,” he said.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to
Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Thursday resigned following a protest over a hospital’s treatment of a new mother who tested positive for COVID-19. Khurelsukh, whose Mongolian People’s Party holds a strong majority in the parliament known as the State Great Khural, stepped down after accusing Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of the Democratic Party of orchestrating a political crisis. A small protest broke out in the capital, Ulan Bator, on Wednesday after TV footage appeared of a woman who had just given birth being escorted in slippers and a thin robe from the maternity ward to a special wing for COVID-19 patients