Each year, people flock to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see the magical phenomena of the Synchronous Fireflies.
Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns. The light patterns are part of their mating display. The males fly around and flash and the usually stationary females respond with a flash. No one is sure why the fireflies flash synchronously. One theory is that males all want to be the first to flash. Or perhaps, if the males all flash together, the females can make better comparisons between them. The fireflies do not always flash in unison. They sometimes flash in waves across hillsides, and at other times flash randomly. Synchrony occurs in short bursts that end with abrupt periods of darkness. Peak flashing for synchronous fireflies in the park is normally within a two-week period in late May to mid-June. A shuttle between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont will be running June 4-11. If you will be in the area during this time, it is definitely worth the time it takes to drive to Sugarlands Visitor Center (it will take about an hour from Bryson City). Reservations are required but cost just $1.50 per car load! You can make a reservation for the shuttle by visiting http://www.recreation.gov/tourParkDetail.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72413