Synchronous fireflies light up the sky in the Smokies

(Courtesy: Recreation.gov)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) –Visitors are lining up at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to witness the unique mating ritual of fireflies where they blink simultaneously.

These fireflies differ from the ones you see in your backyard because they synchronize their flashing light patterns.

“If you picture a Christmas tree blinking simultaneously and then they just stop. It’s beautiful. It’s just gorgeous,” said park volunteer Sandra Aldrich.

The Smokies makes seeing the synchronous fireflies a special event. People from all over, especially in East Tennessee, come to see what they’re all about.

“Fireflies in synchronization. That’s what they sell it as and that’s what I’m excited to see,” said park visitor Ryan Christman, from Harriman.

The event is so popular that they require tickets and have trolleys to take you to the site.

“This is kind of the only place in the world where you can see this species,” said Aldrich.

That’s a big reason why these people make the trip to see the synchronized flash that happens only during this time of the year. The suspense builds as everyone waits to see the fireflies, and when it gets dark, that’s when you start to see those twinkles of light.

It’s part of a mating ritual. Male fireflies light up to get the attention of females. Many aren’t sure why they synchronize, but some say it could be for competition.

“Sometimes they were doing a circle around us. They would blink over in this area and they would blink off and they would do a circle around us sometimes. It was really cool,” said Angie Colbert, from North Georgia.

It’s a sight they won’t soon forget. You can see the fireflies at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park until June 9.

For more information on the synchronous fireflies, visit the park’s website.

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