Tag Archives: aquatic firefly

Twinkles of Hope

It’s been an exciting week  at the International Firefly Symposium here in Taipei! Lots of new scientific discoveries, lots of excursions to see local fireflies, and lots of networking to enhance international firefly conservation and science.

Taiwan is home to nearly 25 million people, and it’s famous for Taipei 101, fabulous food, and spectacular scenery.  It’s also blessed with astonishing biodiversity, including 65 different kinds of fireflies. And now Taiwan is emerging as a leader in firefly conservation.

Taipei City is at the forefront of a growing eco-park movement – restoring habitats for native wildlife in urban areas. Worldwide, half of the human population now lives in cities: our urban areas are expected to triple by 2030. A mere 50 years ago, Taipei residents could still enjoy fireflies. But as the city grew these steadily disappeared, and then fireflies receded to become only a dim memory for Taipei City residents.

But a few years ago, Taipei decided to undertake a project that would return fireflies  to their city.

Using ecological design principles, people set out to restore firefly habitats and build small ponds at several locations around the city. An impressive collaborative team was assembled, which included firefly experts (Treegarden, National Taiwan University), city  officials (Parks & Street Lights Office), conservation organizations (Society for Wilderness, Friends of Da’an Forest Park) and community volunteers.

Suitable conditions needed to be provided for all stages of the firefly life cycle. Luckily, the local Taipei fireflies (Aquatica ficta) have aquatic larvae that can be bred in captivity. Local residents and school children helped release many thousands of firefly larvae into the newly constructed ponds. For adult fireflies, project scientists and city officials took special care to adjust nearby streetlights using LEDs that emit light at 590 nanometers, because these orange lights don’t  interfere with firefly courtship.

This story has a happy ending – now city residents young and old, as well as visiting firefly scientists, can enjoy fireflies right in downtown Taipei!

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Little Green Stars (from Robert Brady)

I love this story about Japanese fireflies (from a 2003 PureLandMountain blogpost) –

Tonight we chased a sliver of a moongrin across the big bridge over the Lake to take Kaya (2 1/2 years old now) to a famed hotaru (firefly) stream … down through the deep dark to the firefly kingdom along the stream in its place beneath the tall trees, where the even deeper darkness was lit like a microstarry night with nothing but wisping flights of limegreen, surprisingly bright flashes rising, swooping, curving, softly floating, flitting here and there going on and off, sparkles resting in their hundreds on the leaves or falling sudden to the ground, kids, mothers, fathers and grandfolks trying to coax the little green stars to their hands, everyone glowing with the mysterious green fire that reflected in the eyes, the faces lit with awe and Kaya too was wide-eyed watching light walk in her hand.