Synchronous fireflies recently found on Grandfather Mountain

It's one of the very few species of firefly in the world that can glow in sync

Photo Credit: Grandfather Mountain

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, NC – A recent discovery made less than 200 miles from Roanoke has left some experts beaming with excitement. 

Photinus carolinus, one of the only species of firefly known to glow in sync, has now found a home on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. This, according to a news release published by the nonprofit nature park.

Photo Credit: Grandfather Mountain

This particular species has drawn a lot of attention and visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but usually does so in late spring and early summer.

The range in elevation at Grandfather Mountain may allow for a longer spectating period, according to Dr. Clyde Sorensen, an entomologist with North Carolina State University.

Sorensen is credited with making this discovery. You may be able to start seeing them in early June, but continue to see them higher in elevation deep into July.

The location on Grandfather Mountain that Sorensen first spotted the species is roughly 2,000 feet higher in elevation than that of the Smokies' location in Elkmont. 

In the news release, Sorensen is quoted as saying, "“As it got dark, the numbers steadily went up, and between 10 and 10:30 p.m., there were several hundred all around the guest cottage and Woods Walk, flashing synchronously.”

Sorensen confirmed his findings with Lynn Fuast, an expert from East Tennessee.

Observations like this have also been confirmed at the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain by their Director of Education, Amy Renfranz. She says that nearly 1,000 were spotted at one time during one of her surveys.

Now that fireflies are out of seaon, the park is hoping to organize future viewing events for the public. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, those eager to see the fireflies sign up for a lottery to win tickets for these types of viewings.

About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.