Taichung eyeing fireflies in a bid to boost tourism

By Huang Chung-shan and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Sep 13, 2016 - Page 3

A government-run project in Taichung is aiming to raise fireflies in a bid to boost tourism and promote ecological development in the area.

The Taichung Bureau of Construction’s Taiping Plant Nursery has undertaken a project, acting on advice from Taichung City Councilor Chang Yu-yen (張玉嬿), to build a firefly eco-park on the nursery’s grounds near Taichung Municipal Dong-Bian Elementary School in Taiping District (太平).

Officials from the bureau, along with entomologist Lan Sen-pin (藍森彬), surveyed the site and gave the green light to start trials raising fireflies.

If the trials are successful, the bureau said it would expand the park and invite the public to observe them.

The nursery was once used by the county to grow trees.

The bureau said that as the nursery had been unused it decided to repurpose the space along with other renovation projects costing NT$2.2 million (US$69,366).

Chang drafted the initial proposal to demolish the walls around the nursery and build a firefly eco-park to boost tourism.

He then invited Lan and fellow entomologist Ho Jen-zon (何健鎔) to survey the site and evaluate the readiness of the nursery to raise fireflies.

“In the Toubiankeng (頭汴坑) area you can faintly see the glimmer of fireflies near a stream of endless clean water. I hope the nursery can raise fireflies so that everyone can one day see them here,” Chang said.

Lan said that a small, but stable population of fireflies breeds naturally around water about 100m from the nursery, adding that local water sources have been used in the past to raise firefly larvae.

If the project is successful the next phase would be to work with the Toubiankeng Bat Cave to raise fireflies there, and to cooperate to jointly promote the eco-park and bat cave, Chang said.