Lights out for firefly event

A firefly event at Zhoupu Flower Sea in the Pudong New Area, Shanghai, has been called off after fears it could affect the local ecology.
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A firefly event at Zhoupu Flower Sea in the Pudong New Area has been called off amid environmental concerns.

The 30-hectare tourist attraction was scheduled to host a monthlong firefly and light art festival from Saturday. Nearly 1 million fireflies from outside of Shanghai were to have been released.

These fireflies are not native to Shanghai, the Pudong New Area Ecological and Environmental Bureau said.

Releasing exotic species into the wild is generally banned in China. Approval from forestry authorities is required if it is for scientific research or biological control.

There were also concerns about how the fireflies had been obtained.

The organizer insisted they had been artificially breed. But experts said it would have been almost impossible that such a large number was artificially raised.

"The cost would be huge," said Fu Xinhua, a deputy professor at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, capital city of central Hubei Province.

An acclaimed researcher of fireflies, he said that the cost of artificially breeding a firefly is about 10 yuan (US$1.5), whereas catching them in the wild costs less than 1 yuan.

Jin Xingbao, an insect expert in Shanghai, said it was more likely the fireflies had been captured in mountain areas which would affect the local ecology.

A significant decrease in fireflies would affect the whole food chain and eventually the environment.

Fireflies can be observed in parks including Shanghai Botanical Garden in Xuhui District, Chenshan Botanical Garden in Songjiang District, as well as places in Qingpu and Fengxian districts.

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