Synchronous Fireflies are going on the list.

The bucket list that is. How beautiful is this…. how sweet would it be to witness. ♥

From the Great Smoky Mountain National Park site:

Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of 14 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns.

Fireflies (also called lightning bugs) are beetles. They take from one to two years to mature from larvae, but will live as adults for only about 21 days. Their light patterns are part of the adulthood mating display. Each species of firefly has characteristic flash pattern that helps its male and female individuals recognize each other. Most species produce a greenish-yellow light; one species has a bluish light. The males fly and flash and the usually stationary females respond with a flash. Peak flashing for synchronous fireflies in the park is normally within a two-week period in mid-June.

The production of light by living organisms is called bioluminescence. Many species of insects and marine creatures are capable of it. Fireflies combine the chemical luciferin and oxygen with the enzyme luciferase in their lanterns (part of their abdomens) to make light. The chemical reaction is very efficient and produces little or no heat.

No one is sure why the fireflies flash synchronously. Competition between males may be one reason: they all want to be the first to flash. Or perhaps if the males all flash together they have a better chance of being noticed, and the females can make better comparisons. The fireflies do not always flash in unison. They may flash in waves across hillsides, and at other times will flash randomly. Synchrony occurs in short bursts that end with abrupt periods of darkness.

I once saw a field lit up with fireflies on a smaller scale (and not synchronized at all)… and it was spectacular!

Life, so much to see…


3 thoughts on “Synchronous Fireflies are going on the list.

  1. I backpacked 5 miles up Little River Trail and stayed overnight June 12. The light show was simply amazing. Best described as four seconds of intense light show alternating with four seconds of darkness. The light/dark contrast is substantial.

    Hiking into the forest is terrific as it is nice and dark. Being away from the bright white flashlights of the Elkmont area crowd makes it much better. White light is very disruptive to the light show.

    We had red headlamps which do not disrupt the show or your night vision. Even a simple campfire about 150 feet away diminished the show quite a bit. Darkness makes it so much better.

    The best comparision to this light show is Avatar. The movie presents a wonderful bioluminescence forest. This is the closest real thing I have seen to the ‘magic’ of that Pandora forest.

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