Where To See Fireflies "Firing" In Harmony

Published: 12th August 2010
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If you like to seek out rare sights when you travel, make plans to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in mid-June. For there, each year, you can take a nighttime hike and watch as millions of fireflies put on a show you'll never forget. It isn't the masses of flickering flies that begin to spark about 9:00 PM, although that is a pretty enough sight. What's unbelievable is that these fireflies are synchronous -- they "fire" all together, as if on command. the show lasts about a half hour, and it's something you'll never forget.

The firefly show usually starts about June 8th and continues for about ten days. You can check with the Smoky Mountain National Park for dates each year, and get information about how to access the viewing trails. June is the only time you can see this remarkable nature show. And the Smokies are one of only two places in the world that synchronous fireflies are known to exist. The other colony of synchronous fireflies is in Malaysia, in Southeast Asia.

No one knows why the beetles (fireflies are a type of beetle) are able to flash in sync or even why they do. Of the many species of fireflies in the park, only the Photinus Carolinus is synchronous. The show, which begins in earnest about 9:30 PM, is amazing. The fireflies start flashing at dark, but it takes a while for the synchronicity to happen - and then in about an hour, the show is over. The abrupt darkness is a stark contrast to the bright flashes of the thousands of fireflies that will surround you as you hike. You may also see the "wave" pattern of flashing, as the fireflies flash in waves from hill to hill. One of the best places to view the show is on the Little River Trail, near the Elkmont area of the park. Trail walkers must follow show etiquette - the glare of flashlights will upset the synchronous flashing. Here's what you need to do:

* 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.

For many years, the only known synchronous fireflies in the world were found in Malaysia. It was only in the early 1990's that one of the residents of the Elkmont community noticed the evening show, which you can see only about two weeks of the year. She convinced a professor at Georgia Southern University to come take a look, and the existence of the rare fireflies was finally documented in 1994. You'll have to travel a long way to see the other synchronous firefly colonies - they exist along the rivers in Kampong Kuantan, Malaysia. No one knows why two colonies of Photinus Carolinus exist on opposite sides of the earth. All I know is that in either location, you are in for a wondrous sight!


Sue Painter is a marketing therapist whose expertise is finding the dark and murky under-places that keep your business from succeeding. She can develop business plans that work, along with strategic marketing plans that are cost effective and take dead aim at your target market. You can subscribe to her Marketing Tips e-zine at http://www.confidentmarketer.com .

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