Oh look, a firefly…or is it a laser? Firefly-watching festivities are immensely popular in China and each season from the end of May until October draws flock of tourists. These events involve the release of tens of thousands of these glowing bugs outside their natural habitat. The East Lake Peony Garden, located in Wuhan (the capital of Hebei province) is China’s first firefly theme park. Yet, although the park itself is populated by some indigenous fireflies, many of them are not what they seem.

For Chinese millennials releasing fireflies has also become a romantic trend. Hence fireflies are readily available on numerous online shopping platforms and can be shipped virtually anywhere in the country. These practices endanger the species, as fireflies do not adapt well to new environments and tend to die quickly after having been set free.

Now that concern over environmental and ecological threats are increasingly being heard and acted upon, this year’s firefly festival, organized by the above mentioned East Lake Peony Garden, decided to take a somewhat radical move: the bugs will be replaced by laser lights.

The festivities will continue as in previous years (the show must, after all, go on), but the planners’ message is clear: no fireflies will be harmed in the production of this season’s show! The world’s first firefly-friendly firefly-watching show for firefly lovers (minus the fireflies): all pleasure, no harm. By using “artificial” fireflies, the park furthermore hopes to educate visitors on the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem and protecting fireflies. 

Source: Sixth Tone

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