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Laboratory of Biology, Okaya, Nagano, Japan

Tatsuno, an ecologically polluted town, defiled Matsuo-kyo Sanctuary for fireflies

Yutaka Iguchi
, Laboratory of Biology
Last Updated:

Key words: invasive species, native, tourist, income, profit

How do you feel about Tatsuno town, Nagano, Japan?

Tatsuno is now notorious for breeding invasive species (non-native Genji fireflies, Luciola cruciata) in the Matsuo-kyo valley, a famous sanctuary for fireflies.

The Tatsuno town government intentionally introduced non-native fireflies to attract the attention of tourists as well as locals and thereby made native fireflies go extinct there (Iguchi, 2003, 2009). Nevertheless, the town government has concealed the destruction of ecological systems and has pretended to protect native fireflies for a long time (Iguchi, 2014). This is mainly because the town has gained tourism income through showing a vast number of fireflies.

Fireflies are certainly the most popular insects in Japan (Takada, 2010, 2011), and therefore the town has increased the number of them. It does not matter to the town whether they are native or not. Its tourism strategy is only to make large profits from their popularity.


Iguchi, Y. (2003) History of the introduction of the Genji-firefly at Matsuo-kyo, Tatsuno-machi, Nagano prefecture . Zenkoku Hotaru Kenkyukai-shi (an annual journal of the Japan Association for Fireflies Research) 36: 13-14 (in Japanese). 日本語標題:井口豊(2003) 長野県辰野町松尾峡におけるゲンジボタル移入の歴史について.全国ホタル研究会誌 36: 13-14.

Iguchi, Y. (2009) The ecological impact of an introduced population on a native population in the firefly Luciola cruciata (Coleoptera: Lampyridae). Biodiversity and Conservation, 18: 2119-2126.

Iguchi Y (2014) Non-native fireflies intentionally introduced into Matsuo-kyo, Tatsuno, Japan: the loss of biodiversity. Laboratory of Biology web page. 日本語標題:井口豊(2014)辰野の移入(外来)ホタル 生物多様性の喪失へ.生物科学研究所ウェブページ.最終更新:2014年6月12日.

Takada, K. (2010) Popularity of different coleopteran groups assessed by Google search volume in Japanese culture - Extraordinary attention of the Japanese to "Hotaru" (lampyrids) and "Kabuto-mushi" (Dynastines) (cultural entomology). Elytra 38: 299-306.

Takada, K. (2011) Popularity of different Lampyrid species in Japanese culture as measured by Google search volume. Insects 2, 336-342.

(View larger map)
Fig. 1. This map shows Matsuo-kyo where a large number of non-native fireflies were intentionally introduced by the town government for tourism and thereby native fireflies have gone extinct.


井口豊 (生物科学研究所