Flash Dance (Photinus carolinus)

Flash Dance (Photinus carolinus): A unique species of firefly graces the mountains
Share this


- The synchronous firefly is one of at least 19 species of fireflies found within Western North Carolina and Tennessee. It is one of only two species in the world that is known to synchronize light patterns, making our mountains a prime showground for this spectacle.

- These fireflies illuminate for about a two-week period between late May and mid June, most notably near the Elkmont, Tennessee, part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

- Every year, Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts a lottery for tickets to watch the firefly display at Elkmont campground. Thousands of visitors gather in this prime spot. For ticket information, call the park ASAP at (865) 436-1261.

- The mountains are also home to another notable species, blue ghost fireflies, which cast a unique blue glow. Local lore says they are specters of Civil War soldiers who lost their lives while fighting in the area.

- Fireflies’ signature glow comes from bioluminescence, which involves the release of light with little to no heat. The light patterns are part of their mating ritual, and vary by species.

Photograph courtesy of the National Park Association