Li Jing was shocked when she opened the parcel.
"I'll never forget the miserable scene when I opened the parcel and saw the small plastic bottle broken and bodies of fireflies falling on the floor," said the 27-year-old woman from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, adding that the scattered bodies scared and disgusted her.
She said she bought the fireflies online in August from a shop in Jiangxi province, tempted by the widespread advertisements and romantic pictures on the shops at taobao.com, a major domestic online service provider.
"It's never right to deliver cute animals through parcels," she said.
But each day, online shop owners send out thousands of parcels containing live animals.
Though fast-delivery companies have a strict ban on transporting live animals in normal parcels, some owners still do it by paying extra money to couriers.
An online shop selling ornamental fish, shrimp and crabs shows piles of records for express delivery, a sign that business is booming.
"We could send about 100 parcels with living animals every day," the owner said in an Aug 29 report in Chongqing Economic Times.
The sellers usually pay extra for the couriers, and then the special parcels can be mixed with regular ones.
However, "based on my experience with the whole express industry, few of the domestic companies have the ability to deliver live animals safely," said Shao Zhonglin, deputy secretary-general of the China Express Association.