TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—As the season of fireflies is in full swing between mid April and the end of May, people should not miss this short window of time to appreciate the insects that have become rarer as their habitats are shrinking due to human pollution and deforestation. People in the metropolitan Taipei area, adults and children alike, are lucky when it comes to viewing fireflies because of the explosive abundance of the glowing insects on the Hemei Mountain in the Bitan scenic area this year and the close proximity of the glowing insects’ natural habitat to a Taipei Metro station.
The Bitan Suspension Bridge
To embark on a fireflies viewing adventure, get off at the Taipei Metro Xindian Station, a destination station on the Green Line, walk across the Bitan Suspension Bridge, and after crossing over the bridge, continue walking about 50 meters to an intersection. Take the asphalt trail on the left that is leading up to the summit of the Hemei Mountain. The trailhead is also the starting point of the fireflies viewing trail, which is marked by Chinese signs, indicating the fireflies viewing route. About 200 meters up the trail, visitors, who are recommended not to use flashlight, will come to a meadow on the left where fireflies twinkle like stars in nightly skies.
The entrance of the Hemei Mountain fireflies viewing trail
From the point on, visitors will be able to spot fireflies on both sides of the initial section of the trail, which is also home to many giant Indian rubber trees.
According to a volunteer guide, fireflies on the Hemei Mountain belong to Taiwan’s indigenous Luciola cerata.
Photo credit: yurenju on Flickr
After walking for about 10 minutes, visitors will come to the Happiness Plaza, one of the ruins of the deserted Bitan Amusement Park on the mountain. Look for a sign that points to steps leading up to the Hemei Mountain summit. Don't take the flat stone path on the right as it is more complicated.
Take steps up the Hemei Mountain summit
A few hundred meters up the steps, visitors will come to a fork on the trail, take the gravel trail on the right that eventually leads to a nearby community. After walking about 200 meters on the gravel road, visitors will arrive at a flat grassland that is strewn with a couple of small ponds.
Take the gravel path on the right as the sign indicates.
This grassland, which is also the end point of the trail, is the ultimate fireflies viewing place along the route. Visitors should be advised to follow the direction signs, walk on the stone pavement, and not to trample on the grassland as it is the breeding place of the fireflies.
This would be a nice short night adventure for nature lovers as well as city slickers, but don’t go there after 9 p.m. so as not to disturb the insects for too long.
Visitors are advised to come on a weekday night as the fireflies viewing trail could be jam-packed on weekend nights during the season of fireflies.