Tag Archives: conservation

Loving Chinese fireflies to death?

china valentines day.jpg

For the past few years, online sales of live fireflies have skyrocketed just before Qixi, the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. For many young Chinese, a jar of fireflies looks like a brilliant way to say “I love you.”

According to reports, more than 10 million Chinese fireflies were sold online in 2015, a tenfold rise compared with the same period the previous year. Costing a few hundred yuan, each  container holds 30-50 fireflies, most likely collected from the wild. But it makes a short-lived gift, because once they’re in captivity these fireflies will only survive a few days. Continue reading

We harvested 100 million U.S. fireflies?

Believe it or not, from 1960 until the mid-1990s, the Sigma Chemical Company (now called Sigma-Aldrich) harvested about 3 million wild fireflies every year. Each summer, they ran newspaper ads to recruit thousands of collectors across the U.S., who got paid a penny per firefly (with a $20 bonus if they sent in more than 200,000 fireflies).

What did they do with all those fireflies?

They extracted firefly luciferase, the light-producing enzyme, then sold it for use in food safety testing and research.

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