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Catching and Keeping Fireflies

Every summer in Japan, people hold a firefly festival. They catch fireflies and put them in cages. Then they join together in boats on a lake or river. All at once, everyone opens the cages and thousands of fireflies fill the air.

You and your friends can celebrate your own firefly festival. To catch fireflies without hurting them, you should use a net. If you don't have one, you can make a net with a little help.

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Make a hoop out of a wire coat hanger. Tape it to a stick or broom handle. Sew a piece of cloth or netting to the hoop and stitch it into a net.

Once you catch a firefly in the net, put it into a jar. Hint: Hold the jar upside down and put the net under it. Fireflies always crawl up, never down, so they should crawl into the jar.

Once you have the fireflies in a jar, screw on the top. DO NOT punch air holes in the lid. Air holes dry out the air in the jar, and fireflies need damp air to survive. There is plenty of air in the jar to keep the insects alive for a day or more. Put a small piece of washed apple and a small clump of fresh grass in the jar. The apple helps keep the air in the jar moist, and it gives the fireflies something to grab onto. The grass is for them to climb on and hide in.

Every day, unscrew the jar lid and blow across the top of the jar. This keeps the air in the jar fresh. Don't put the jar in direct sunlight.

You don't need to feed the fireflies. Most adults never eat. They did all their eating as larvae. But don't keep them in a jar for more than two or three days. Fireflies only live a few days or weeks and don't want to spend their whole lives in a jar.

Hold your own firefly festival by taking the jar out into a field and letting the tiny creatures go. Then watch them fill the air with dots of light.

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