Friday, June 6, 2014

Synchronized Fireflies

Photinus carolinus, or synchronized fireflies, are one of 19 species of fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains that perform a rare mating ritual that attracts people from all over the world. 

On Wednesday, my hubby and I met up with my mom and siblings and some friends from church and drove up to the mountains to view this dazzling light show.  We were in for a special treat as our guide had a campsite reservation – we parked there and made s’mores until it was dark enough to hike a little ways up to the spot where the fireflies were performing.  After pushing past the crowd, we set up our camp chairs and blankets and watched the lightning bugs light up the forest on both sides of the path. 

If you’ve never seen them, here’s how it works – the fireflies light up together for a little while, making the forest seem to be dotted in blinking, moving Christmas lights.  Then, all at the same time, they stop blinking and the forest goes dark.  A few seconds later, they start blinking again.  It really is so cool to see!  It's not something that you can really videotape or photograph very well.  You just have to be there! 

Our guide told us that the females don’t have wings, so they stay in the grass while the males fly around and try to attract them.  I never knew that about lightning bugs! 

Around 10:15pm, lightning started flashing in the sky above us.  We’d been warned about a potential storm rolling through, so we packed up our stuff, headed back to the campsite, and loaded up the vans.  On the way down the mountain, it started pouring!  We were so glad that the rain held off for us!

If you ever want to see synchronized fireflies, there are only two places in the world you can go to see them:  the Great Smoky Mountains, and Southeast Asia.