No matter what the calendar may say, I think Summer officially begins the day I see my first firefly of the year. And that event happened on May 31st this year. Since childhood I have been fascinated by the firefly although in those growing up years, we called them “lightning bugs”. After all, it is a bug, and it lights up. So this little insect remained a “lightning bug” until just a few years ago when my 7-year old neighbor informed me, “That is NOT a lightning bug…..that’s a “firefly”. Even though I no longer have that sweet little fellow living next door to me, I still have to correct myself quite often. I will sometimes catch myself about to say “lightning bug” and quickly say “firefly” instead. As a child, my brother and I would sometimes capture them in a jar to watch them light up. Although we would always release them, it saddens me now to think that I encroached on their freedom for even a small amount of time.
Several years ago I learned about an amazing firefly event. There are at least 19 species of the firefly in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but only one species can synchronize their flashing light patterns. The light patterns are part of the firefly’s mating display but scientists are not sure why they flash synchronously. The fireflies do not always flash in unison. They may flash in waves across hillsides, and at other times will flash randomly. Synchrony occurs in short bursts that end with abrupt periods of darkness. People can view this phenomenon for approximately two weeks each year (peak times this year from June 7 –June 14) from select viewing points in the Park. A shuttle transports viewers to the sites from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, but a parking pass is required.
This is now a HUGE event in this area and certainly a “must-see” on my bucket list. And it does not concern me too much that scientists cannot explain the “why” and “how” of all this. After all, our Heavenly Father created and designed it for our viewing pleasure, and that’s all I need to know.
You can learn more at: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm
© Leslie O. Kelley. 2018. Morristown, TN