Synchronous Fireflies in the Smokies

We all remember growing up watching fireflies, catching them, maybe evening putting them in a jar to make your own natural lantern.  Well, this is the time of year here in the Smokies when one has the opportunity to see the synchronous fireflies, or Photinus carolinus, one of the 14 species of fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This is the only species in America that can synchronize their flashing light pattern; the only other place in the world is southeast Asia.

Swag guests have the opportunity to enjoy this rare phenomenon while visiting the Smokies this week in at least two locations, Cataloochee and Elkmont.  Cataloochee Valley Tours has confirmed synchronous sightings down in the valley, while the City of Gatlinburg has partnered with the national park to provide shuttle service between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont nightly through June 12th for viewing.

Light Show Viewing Tips
Flashlights disrupt the fireflies and impair people’s night vision. The light show is best when you:

  • Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.
  • Use your flashlight only when walking to your viewing spot.
  • Point your flashlight at the ground.
  • Turn off your flashlight when you find your viewing spot.

So whether you have the opportunity to view the synchronous variety here in the Smokies or just get out and watch lightning bugs in your own back yard, be sure to get out and enjoy the cool spring evenings as the summer heat will be here before you know it.