These fireflies are like nothing you've ever seen, but securing your spot to see them is hard.

Summertime Fireflies

When I was a kid, I remember going outside and catching lightning bugs (or fireflies).  It was a fun activity and I remember watching them flash their light up close was so neat.  Even as an adult, seeing lightning bugs out in a field on a warm summer night will make me stop and watch as they light up.   So I can only imagine what a sight it must be to see synchronous fireflies light up the Smoky Mountains.

Photo by Tony Phan on Unsplash
Photo by Tony Phan on Unsplash
loading...

Synchronous Fireflies of the Smokies

Every year fireflies inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park put on a spectacle that people travel from all over to see.  According to the National Parks Service, the reason for this natural light show is due to the fireflies' mating season. This particular species of firefly will use flash patterns to attract a mate.

Firefly flash patterns are part of their mating display. Each species has a characteristic pattern that helps male and female individuals recognize and find each other. Most species produce a greenish-yellow light, but others have more of a blue or white light. Males typically flash while they are flying, and females, which are usually stationary, flash in response.

The production of light by living organisms is called bioluminescence.

As you can imagine seeing thousands of fireflies lighting up synchronously is an incredible thing to witness.

Photo by Robert Ritchie on Unsplash
Photo by Robert Ritchie on Unsplash
loading...

When Can You See the Synchronous Fireflies?

This natural synchronized light show takes place every year for about 2-3 weeks in either May or June.  The National Parks Service evaluates the daily temperatures to try its best to estimate when this event will take place.  Since fireflies aren't on a set schedule, the National Parks Service works hard to try its best to pinpoint when the spectacle will begin.   However, if you want to witness it, you'll need to enter a lottery for your chance to see the fireflies.

Photo by Kevin Wang on Unsplash
Photo by Kevin Wang on Unsplash
loading...

How to Enter the Lottery to See the Synchronous Fireflies

If you want to catch this incredible natural light show, you will need to join the firefly viewing lottery.  Due to the number of people who want to view the fireflies, the National Parks Service has had to implement a lottery for car passes, because supply simply cannot meet demand. The lottery costs $1 to enter and will open in late April.  The exact dates have not yet been announced.  If you'd like to learn more about the lottery and the synchronous fireflies, you can find all of that information, here. 

Quiz: Do you know your state insect?

Stacker has used a variety of sources to compile a list of the official state insect(s) of each U.S. state, as well as their unique characteristics. Read on to see if you can guess which insect(s) represent your state. 

Gallery Credit: Andrew Vale

 

More From WDKS-FM