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Jungle, exotic flowers, and fireflies all at Bios

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1999-07-03

The "Bios" natural gardens, located in Ishikawa, is currently offering a night boat tour that leads you on a tropical adventure of discovery. The seasonal tour's main attraction is the "Okinawa sujibotaru" Curtos okinawana matamura, a firefly that depends on clean water for survival. The fireflies can be seen glowing along the banks, creating a magical experience for both children and adults.

The Okinawa sujibotaru is just one of the rare species of firefly that can be found in Okinawa. Because of its dependence on clean water, its habitat has steadily been shrinking over the years. The sujibotaru is between 6.6 and 7.3 millimeters in length and can be seen in Okinawa from April until September. The larva of the Okinawa sujibotaru spends part of its life actually living in the water. As the larvae become adults, they begin to make their move towards land, but always remain very close to the water's edge. The young usually feed on snails for food, but once the firefly has reached adulthood it will rarely eat, concentrating solely on mating.

The tour offers a chance to see these incredible insects in their natural environment. It begins at 6:45 pm with a short lecture in Japanese on the firefly's life cycle and habitat. After the lecture you will board one of the park's open river boats and begin a 45-minute trip around a small pond. This is where the fun begins. A spotlight is used to show you the many different species of sub-tropical flora. As the light brings to life the colors of exotic flowers that were hidden by the blackness of the night, you begin to feel like you are floating down a jungle river. Huge ferns called "Hikage hego" extend out over the water, while other rare plants also make their presence known.

The boat will then enter a narrow passageway. It is in this area that the spotlight is turned off and the natural light of the Okinawa sujibotaru begins to come into view. During the tour I was on, we first only saw a few flickers of light, but within 10 minutes of the first sighting the surrounding forest was filled with the tiny yellowish glow of many fireflies. The insect's light is used to attract each other during mating. The male's light will constantly glow, but the female's light tends to flicker on and off. All males fly, but most females will remain on the ground, waiting for a mate to find her.

Although the entire tour is in Japanese, kids will still enjoy the feeling of adventure. The amount of fireflies that can be seen on any given night varies, but the jungle flora can also provide an interesting experience if firefly sightings are low.

The "Firefly Watching Tour" costs 2,000 for adults, 1,700 for elementary school students, and children under four get in for free. The price also includes entrance into the park, allowing you to enter early and observe the many different flowers the park has. Tours for July will be held on Friday and Saturday only, and reservations are necessary. Groups can make reservations on weekdays. Tickets can be bought at Bios and Tsubasa Travel.

*For reservations please call 965-3400 or visit a Tsubasa Travel Agent.

Bios is located near the Royal Golf Course. Head north form Kadena on Highway 58 and turn left to enter Nakadomari at the signal just past the Renaissance Resort. Make a right at the next traffic light. As soon as you go up the hill make another right and continue going straight. Look for the Bios signs on your right.

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