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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Living on Earth Almanac/Firefly Festival

Air Date: Week of June 7, 2002

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

This week, we have facts about a firefly festival in South Korea. Every year, people of Muju let lightning bugs light up their town.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

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CURWOOD: It will be a little bit brighter in South Korea this week as the town of Muju celebrates the Annual Firefly Festival. Between the 10th and 14th of June, bright lights are banned throughout the small town near the southern tip of the Korean peninsula so the incandescent insects can have the spotlight.

Festival organizers set up platforms near lightening bug habitats for better viewing. But the main attraction is a huge tent filled with several thousands blinking fireflies. School kids do their homework by firefly light for an hour, then the critters are released back into the wild.

To keep this festival bright for the future, townsfolk hold a parade and prayer sessions to honor firefly breeding. Fireflies are among a handful of insects that can glow. They’re also being studied as a model for display screens that need little energy. Scientists also believe a protein derived from the bugs can be used to make blood samples light up and indicate immune system response to invaders such as HIV and anthrax.

But all this lab work is light years away from the folks in Muju who just sit back and bask in the glow of firefly light. And, for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.

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