For plenty of people, a park populated by thousands of flying insects sounds more like a nightmare than a fun day out. But the concept becomes more appealing when it’s revealed that those bugs are all fireflies, whose bioluminescent properties make for a stunning visual display. The city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province boasts such a firefly-themed park. At East Lake Peony Garden, visitors are invited to get up close and personal with thousands of the light-up creatures.
To make the existence of such a park possible, organizers imported 10,000 fireflies from neighboring Jiangxi province. Once the esteemed guests arrived, they were distributed among five distinct areas: a “zero-distance contact zone,” an observation zone, a flying zone, a larval breeding zone, and a “science popularization” area. The park also hosts specialized activities like dinosaur exhibits, camping festivals, family-friendly walks, and wilderness training programs for children—all amid the nighttime glow of the fireflies (or lightning bugs, if you prefer).
Due to fireflies’ need to hibernate in their larval stage during the winter months, their presence has to be a seasonal one. Wuhan’s firefly park opened for the first time this past May, with a crowd of approximately 5000 eager visitors hoping for a light show.
Chinese residents in particular might be drawn to the firefly park to see a natural experience that has grown increasingly rare over the years, as air pollution and environmental changes have caused the insect population to diminish. This appreciation, however, might have dire consequences for the fireflies themselves. Conservationists claim that any firefly attractions that rely on insects caught in the wild and transported to a habitat other than their own may lead to species endangerment. The harsh artificial lights and loud noises of human civilization can upset the firefly population, not to mention the potential harm done by visitors attempting to surreptitiously catch themselves a souvenir. As with so much of nature’s beauty, fireflies might be another thing best observed in the wild.
[h/t My Modern Met]