Synchronized Smoky Mountain Fireflies

In 1994, someone mentioned to a guy studying bugs that they had watched the "light" show at Elkmont for something like 40 years. Thus, the synchronized fireflies of the Smokies were revealed to the rest of the world. Turns out there are only two known places in the world that have synchronized fireflies. The other place is in Southeast Asia. This is a whole lot closer. At the encouragment of the Horns, the Easts and the Dugans joined them in the trek to Elkmont. Since they don't allow cars in anymore, we drove to the Sugarlands center near the park entrance and caught the trolley to Elkmont.

We found a secluded place facing the woods across a gulley and settled in. Ezie created a minor stir when he started talking about ticks dropping out of trees and crawling up open pant legs. The show started as it got dark. At first there were only a few bugs lighting up. And we mistook the "blue ghosts" for the synchronized blinkers. The blue ghosts can stay lit for 15 seconds. Kinda eery. Finally, they started blinking as advertised. They would typically start at our right and sweep to the left, blinking with a slight delay and then together. What was spooky is that they would often stop together at the same time. Sometimes the blinking appeared random. Then it would synch up again. The blinking apparently continues until about 11:00pm at which time most of the guys have a girlfriend for the night or just got worn out from all the work of blinking.

After watching the really neat show for about an hour, we had the pleasure of standing in line for about 45 minutes to catch the trolley back to Sugarlands.

Photo (116KB)
Pit stop before heading up to Elkmont

Photo (99KB)
TG and Laura movin' out

Photo (113KB)
The 3 gals beside the creek at Elkmont

Photo (103KB)
Settling in for firefly watching

Photo (116KB)
Peggy and the Easts

Photo (112KB)
What did you do to that tree, Laura?

Photo (88KB)
Anticipation builds as the light dims

Photo (83KB)
There, finally got that hat on. Will this keep out the ticks?

Photo (145KB)
Nice socks! They keep the tick out of your pants legs this way.

Photo (86KB)
Beth was wary of the ticks. Great headgear!