Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event 2020

Firefly Events in the Smokies

Smoky Mountain synchronous fireflies should not be missed!

Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event 2020. It’s never to early to start making plans to see the Synchronous Fireflies (and the Blue Ghost Fireflies) that will light up the night sky in late May and early June 2020 in the Great Smoky Mountains. Firefly viewing in the Smokies has become such a popular event that there are now several venues available to enjoy the spectacular shows.

The Synchronous Firefly (Photinus carolinus) and the Blue Ghost Firefly (Phausis reticulata) are two species that are found only in the Southern Appalachian Mountains which include the Great Smokies. And during the short mating season in late May and early June, both firefly species put on quite a show to behold! The male Synchronous Firefliesflash their little green-yellow bioluminescent lanterns in unison for about 6-8 blinks and then they go dark for a few seconds creating a sublime wave of light throughout the forest. The male Blue Ghost Fireflies don’t flash their blue-white lanterns, instead they glow continuously just a few inches above the ground. The ethereal experience of either nighttime show should be on everyone’s bucket list!  National Park scientists mostly use air and soil temperatures to predict the timing of each year’s mating season.

Synchronous Fireflies with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
One of the most popular places to view the Synchronous Fireflies is in Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This event has become so popular that a free lottery system was instituted for parking passes for the eight-day shuttle period to Elkmont. During this time of peak viewing, Elkmont is closed at nighttime with the exception of shuttle users and campers in Elkmont Campground. Dates for the 2020 Lottery and Elkmont Shuttle will be announced sometime in April 2020. HeySmokies will keep you updated, so be sure to check back with us. We’ll provide you all the details of what you need to know to register for the lottery. For more information in the meantime, visit Recreation.gov.

Synchronous Fireflies with Discover Life in America in Gatlinburg, TN

For a few nights during peak firefly viewing time, Discover Life in America hosts a fundraising event featuring nightly presentations and field walks at the Norton Creek Sanctuary near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tickets for the event are $100 each and the event is geared toward persons ages 10 and older. For reservations for this exclusive event, call Discover Life in America at 865-430-4757 or email todd@dlia.org

Blue Ghost Fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest near Asheville, NC
DuPont State Forest is located in Cedar Mountain, NC about 30 miles outside of Asheville. Due to the popularity of this location in recent years, some of the trails in the High Falls parking area will be closed during peak viewing season. Because the female Blue Ghosts stay on the ground, many have been killed by visitors wandering off of the designated trails. For more information, visit DuPont State Forest.

Fireflies on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway are a great place to view starry nights as well as the fireflies in June! Usually the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville offers a family-friendly firefly viewing event. For more information, visit Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center.

Grandfather Mountain

It’s glow time as the discovery of Synchronous fireflies light up Grandfather Mountain. grandfather mountain is in Linville, North Carolina.

Grandfather Mountain’s staff and experts expressed glowing enthusiasm for the recent discovery of Photinus carolinus, the only species of firefly in North America whose individuals can synchronize their lighting display (or flash in unison).

It was a serendipitous discovery on Grandfather Mountain. Dr. Claude Sorenson, an entomologist from North Carolina State University, was hosting a workshop on the mountain and spending the night in the park’s guest cottage near the Woods Walk when he decided to find out what type fireflies might call this high altitude home. When he saw a few fireflies about 9:30 p.m. Sorenson knew these were no ordinary ones. “As it got dark, the numbers steadily went up and between 10 and 10:30 p.m., there were several hundred all around the guest cottage and Woods Walk, flashing synchronously,” Sorenson was quoted as saying. He confirmed his findings with East Tennessee naturalist Lyn Faust, an expert on the subject who has written a field guide on fireflies. Sorenson referred to Faust as “one of the best resources for anyone who is interested in learning more about these critters.”

Synchronous behavior is rare in fireflies. According to Sorenson, there are only a handful of this particular species around the world that do this, and for a long time, the amazing spectacle of large numbers synchronizing has been associated with a few geographical areas that range from New York to Georgia.

Sorenson’s recent discovery was at 4,200 feet compared to the fireflies in Elkmont, GSMNP at 2,200 feet.  Grandfather’s elevation range begins at 3,000 feet and peaks at nearly 6,000 feet. At the top, where temperatures are colder, the fireflies flashed in slower cadence, reported Amy Renfranz, Grandfather Mountains’ director of education, speaking of survey observations near the park’s Mile High Swinging Bridge. During one survey, Franz noted more than 1,000 fireflies from one overlook.

Smoky Mountain Synchronous Fireflies

Smoky Mountain synchronous fireflies are amazing!

As a general rule, fireflies, at most locations, are active for about two to three weeks. Due to the great elevation span of Grandfather, the display could last longer, Franz said. The show could start at the bottom of the mountain in early June and continue well into July at increased elevations, providing a bonus for the scientific community as well as spectators.

Jesse Pope, president and executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, a non-profit organization that owns and operates the park, was excited about the news and said the discovery goes hand-in-hand with Grandfather Mountain’s mission to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather.  “That’s something that makes Grandfather Mountain so special, that a visitor could do the discovering,” Pope was quoted as saying.

The park staff is already preparing for next year’s light show, brought to you compliments of Mother Nature.

For more information on the fireflies or other interesting events on Grandfather Mountain, call 800-468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com

Both firefly species are common in other areas of Southern Appalachia and just perhaps during the month of June, you stay outside until around 10:00 p.m. when it’s good and dark and you sit quietly, you may be surprised at the light show in your very own backyard!

HeySmokies loves fireflies! Photo credit - bizyb

HeySmokies loves fireflies! Photo credit – bizyb

 

More Hey Smokies Features:

Tick Safety Tips!
Tick Safety Tips!...
Tick Safety Tips! Ticks and what you need to know to stay safe! It is that time of year in the Smoky Mountains. Summertime and outdoor activitie[Read More >>]
Five Best Hikes To Mount LeConte
Five Best Hikes To Mount LeConte...
These hikes to Mount LeConte are worth the effort! Five best hikes to Mount LeConte. LeConte Lodge is the only overnight lodging, [Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Laurel Falls Access Fee Proposed...
Laurel Falls Access Fee Proposed. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking public input on the Laurel Falls Trail Congestion Manageme[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain shuttle opportunities for Cades Cove Vehicle-Free Wednesdays...
Smoky Mountain shuttle opportunities for Cades Cove Vehicle-Free Wednesdays. Shuttles begin July 7, 2021 and will run through September 1, [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Bear Attack
Smoky Mountain Bear Attack...
Smoky Mountain bear attack! Smoky Mountain Bear Attack. Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials have closed backcountry campsite 29 in [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon...
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon is on the rise! Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon is on the rise! This first full moon of summer 2021[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Hike Naked Day!...
Hike Naked Day! That is right, June 21st is the official international hike naked day! The free and easy event is often a rite of pass[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Cicadas...
Smoky Mountain Cicadas. What's all the buzz about? A rare natural history event is unfolding right now! This month through mid-July, bi[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Lights, Camera, Action! Appalachian Bear Rescue double your donation campaign!...
Lights, Camera, Action! Appalachian Bear Rescue double your donation campaign! Now's the chance to DOUBLE YOUR DONATION impact and give you[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Road Work Scheduled
Smoky Mountain Road Work Scheduled...
Smoky Mountain road closures set to snarl traffic. Smoky Mountain Road work Scheduled. Smoky Mountain road crews will close single north and[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Volunteer Opportunities
Smoky Mountain Volunteer Opportunities...
Smoky Mountain Volunteer Opportunities in May and June of 2021. Park staff are hosting several volunteer workdays on trails throughout the [Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Abrams Falls Trail Rehabilitation Begins...
Abrams Falls Trail Rehabilitation Begins. National Park officials announced that a Trails Forever rehabilitation project in Cades Cove will[Read More >>]
Greenbrier Open To Public
Greenbrier Open To Public...
Greenbrier Open To Public. Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers announced the Greenbrier area of GSMNP reopened to all pub[Read More >>]
Rainbow Falls Trail Closed for Bridge Replacement
Rainbow Falls Trail Closed for Bridge Replacement...
Rainbow Falls Trail Closed for Bridge Replacement.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will temporarily close Rainbow Falls Trai[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Tamale recipe. Homemade tamales are always a Smoky Mountain special event! Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are on the [Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Lottery
Great Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Lottery...
Smoky Mountain synchronous firefly dates announced. Great Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Lottery will begin Friday, April, 30 2021 at 10[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Interstate Wildlife Crossing
Smoky Mountain Interstate Wildlife Crossing...
The Pigeon River gorge interstate wildlife crossing will provide safe passage for bear, elk and their furry friends! Smoky Mountain Intersta[Read More >>]
Cades Cove Car Ban
Cades Cove Car Ban...
The Cades Cove car ban will allow walkers, runners and bikers an opportunity to enjoy the Cove without the congestion and noise of cars. Cad[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Nudist Colony Bares All
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Nudist Colony Bares All...
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Nudist Colony Bares All. Great Smoky Mountain officials announce the grand opening of the new Cades Cov[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Earth Day Trash Pick Up...
Smoky Mountain Earth Day Trash Pick Up will be held on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. This year Earth day reminds us to take care of and apprec[Read More >>]