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Flight of the Fireflies

35.6556° N, 83.5844° W

  • There are many mysterious creatures that exist across this big old earth, but few can captivate the attention of all – from wide-eyed children to world-weary adults – quite like the firefly. With only a fleeting lifespan of around two months, these curious little insects manage to make quite an impact in their short time on the planet, so much so that entire events (stretching from Japan to Germany) have sprung up in their honour.

    Of course, any attempt to watch the flight of the fireflies must be planned well in advance so as not to miss the most enlightening attraction since Aurora Borealis itself. One of the most highly recommended spots to witness one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights is, befittingly, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    Home to nineteen different species of ‘lightning bug’, the town of Elkmont, Tennessee plays host to arguably the flashiest of them all: the Photinus Carolinus. Unique in scientific circles for their ability to synchronise their sparks alongside the million or so other males, these fascinating beasties put on a brilliant aeronautic show in order to attract one of the much more stationary females waiting on the ground below. Coordinating their flashes in a game of creepy-crawly call and response, they break through the black skies with vivid yellow-green and electric blue-tinged lights, all emanating from their glowing posteriors. So famous and unique are their derriere displays that people flock to the area for the entirety of the two week mating period (in fluctuating dates from May to June) in order to be a part of this all natural disco.

    Sounds like a bright idea to us.

IMAGE CREDIT: Mike Lewinski
November 27th 2015