Every summer, fireflies begin to glow in the Japanese town of Tatsuno. Their glowing spectacle draws a large number of people. But this year, the insects performed their dance without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers of the firefly festival were left with no other choice but to cancel the popular event as part of the country’s prevention measures to the coronavirus.

The spectacle lasts for 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,” Katsunori Funaki, from the city’s tourism division, told AFP. “During the short, 10-day period, they find a partner and lay eggs for the next year.”

As many as 30,000 fireflies perform their magic during the 10-day period in Tatsuno.

The insects almost became extinct in the area due to the rise of silk production, which created pollution. But the town worked hard to restore the environment and protect the fireflies.

Fireflies are said to be an evidence of a pristine and healthy natural environment.

To help the fireflies thrive, the town placed snails in the area called “kawanina.” Fireflies spend about nine months of their year-long lifecycle growing in the fresh water and the baby insects eat the snail in order to grow. The town also created a park complete with ditches to have fresh water from the river and waterfalls so that the insects may have an oxygen-rich aquatic home.

“Fireflies are a creature that grows over a year and flies for only 10 days to leave behind the next generation before dying,” festival organizer Tatsuki Komatsu 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.”

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