Thursday, May 31, 2007

Smoky Mountains Synchronous Fireflies Showtime

Well, it's that time of year again, time for the awesome Smoky Mountain display of the little firefly better known as a lightning bug - if you're a country girl from the South. The peak flashing period will be from June 8-16, 2007

As I prepared to write this post, I found some truly interesting facts about fireflies/lightning bugs and this mating ritual. The wonders of God's marvelous creation never ceases to amaze me. Flashing Lightning Bugs are trying to attract mates. Among most but not all species of North American Lightning Bugs, males fly about flashing while females perch on vegetation, usually near the ground. If the female sees a flasher and she's ready to mate she responds by flashing right after the male's last flash. A short flash dialogue takes place as the male flies closer and closer, and then, if all goes well, they mate.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the transportation schedule for visitors during the mating period of the synchronous firefly beetles at Elkmont. The City of Gatlinburg trolley service will once again operate transportation between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Little River Trailhead at Elkmont. The trolleys will start at 6 p.m. picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area. The trolleys will continually run until the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area is full or until 9 p.m., whichever comes first. The last trolley to transport visitors from Elkmont to the Sugarlands Visitor Center is scheduled at 11 p.m. The cost will be $1 round trip per person.

The Gatlinburg trolley service will be the sole transportation mode for visitor access during this period; no private vehicles will be allowed. In order to accommodate the public transportation, starting at 5:30 p.m. each night June 8-16, the Elkmont entrance will be closed except to registered campers staying at Elkmont.

The annual appearance of the synchronous firefly beetles in the Park has become so popular that Park officials began managing the number of visitors to the trailhead. This area has very limited parking spaces that were designed to accommodate day use for several trails.

Deep in the Great Smoky Mountains in a deserted Tennessee logging community known as Elkmont, male fireflies hover along mountainsides and open fields. At dusk, you notice a light blinking here and there. Then as more fireflies join in, their lights blink together in unison. By 10 p.m., whole glades and hillsides flash like massive strings of Christmas lights blinking in unison.

“It’s very magical; it’s unbelievable when you see it,” said Wanda DeWaard, a Tennessee field researcher and educator who leads hikes into the Elkmont area during the brief spring mating season of synchronous fireflies.

Why not plan a trip to see this Smoky Mountain magical miracle. Find a cozy cabin for your Tennessee vacation Guide to the Best"By-Owner"Vacation Rentals-Smoky Mtns of Tenn & NC

Firefly info courtesy - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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