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Fireflies at Kirstenbosch

November 18, 2010

Last night I went on a little walk at Kirstenbosch… a walk to find fireflies. It wasn’t quite as magical as the song and almost as brief as the TV series. πŸ˜‰

I’ve always loved going to Kirstenbosch but I’ve never been at night and I’ve never been on a guided tour. It was interesting learning a little bit about the history. The first trees were planted by Cecil John Rhodes in 1895 and he later bequeathed the estate to the people of Cape Town. In 1913, the Botanical Society was formed and, under the leadership of Harold Pearson, they now manage this beautiful botanical garden.

But… let’s talk about the bugs. πŸ™‚

The walk is only available for a few short weeks because this is when the bugs mate. So, basically, you go on this walkΒ  to watch bugs flirt with each other. It’s like going to a bar to watch drunk teenagers flirt with each other… but with lights in their bums! *ahem*

From Wikipedia:

“It is thought that light in adult beetles was originally used for similar warning purposes, but evolved for use in mate selection. Now fireflies are a classic example of an organism that uses bioluminescence for sexual selection. They have evolved a variety of ways to communicate with mates in courtships: steady glows, flashing, as well as the use of chemical signals unrelated to photic systems.”

Despite the why for the “bioluminescence”, it’s still a pretty magical experience. We started the walk just before the sun was about to set. Our guide took us right up to the highest part of the gardens and we waited there for the sun to set and the bugs to come out. What a way to watch the sun set…. πŸ™‚

We were then taken into a natural forest that has been untouched except for a rugged path (Boekenhout path, I believe). It was quite a strenuous walk for the unfit (i.e. me), but the kids that were on the path seemed to enjoy it. Climbing through the forest, we caught glimpses of the fireflies through the trees. Eventually we got to an open patch where we were asked to switch off our lights and just watch. Pretty soon, the tiny fireflies starting flying around the open patch and all around us. It was actually VERY cool. πŸ™‚

So, keep your eyes open for these walks next year and go early. Last night was the end of the season and we were advised that there weren’t very many around. And take comfortable shoes! Overall, it was a special experience. Thanks to my friend al_ice for suggesting the idea.

I wish I was a glow worm, a glow worm is never glum.

Cos how can you be grumpy,

when the suns shines out your bum?

I guess you can’t argue with that.

Have fun out there.


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