(ECNS) – A firefly cultural festival scheduled for May has been canceled after it sparked strong protests from environmental protection groups, Beijing Youth Daily reported.
News about the event first surfaced online in early May. Originally scheduled to be held on the nights of May 12 to 14 at a hotel in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province, the event would have allowed visitors to get a close view of tens of thousands of fireflies.
On May 10, several local environmental organizations jointly published an article encouraging a boycott of the festival. "Fireflies demand specific environmental conditions, and releasing them is killing them," said the article, adding that introducing large numbers of fireflies from another place could "destroy the natural ecosystem a thousand miles away."
Haikou's forestry administration confirmed the cancellation, citing health concerns. It said the bugs, bought from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, had not gone through inspection and quarantine formalities or any other required procedure.
However, many Taobao vendors are still selling both wild and bred bugs, and claiming they can hold large-scale firefly-releasing events. Prices of the bugs range from 0.8 yuan to five yuan, the paper reported.
Fireflies live for just seven to ten days, and are at risk of a shorter lifespan if they are forced to adjust to a new environment, said Fu Xinhua, an associate professor at Huazhong Agricultural University.
Although fireflies are not under state protection, their quantity is a good indicator of the health of a local environment. Capturing the bugs on a large scale would have an adverse effect on biodiversity and could even result in their gradual extinction, said Fu. When large numbers of the bugs are introduced into a region and set free, they can also invade and jeopardize local species, he added.