DLA Group hosting several Firefly Events
By TODD P. WITCHER
What do Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Malaysian jungles have in common? Haven’t a twinkling of an idea? It’s the presence of synchronous fireflies! During the first weeks of June, an annual lightshow, put on by Mother Nature’s night-lights, illuminate areas of GSMNP. This year the non-profit organization Discover Life in America is holding a number of events for the public to experience this natural wonder and learn more about the mystery behind the synchronous fireflies.
“We know of 19 species of fireflies (actually they’re a unique group of beetles) currently inhabiting the Park,” states park curator Adriean Mayor. “There are 12 species that “flash” and 7 species with no “flash”.” This “flashing” phenomenon is caused by a chemical reaction in the fireflies’ lower abdominal organs called bioluminescence.
Now you might be wondering: Why don’t the fireflies in my backyard synchronize? What makes the fireflies in the park so special? All of your question and more will be answered by attending any of the following events:
On June 10-11, starting at 7:30 pm and ending at 11:00 pm, DLIA is holding a fund-raising event at Norton Creek Sanctuary near Gatlinburg, Tenn. With exclusive access to the property and a firefly expert on site, you will be able to learn the answers to your questions while enjoying the amazing display first hand. Food (heavy hors d’oeuvres) and drink (beer and wine) will be provided. There will be a short walk to the site and be prepared for possible inclement weather. (Reservations required – space is very limited. Call 865.430.4756 for tickets. The cost is $75 per person.)
On June 11, from 11 am to 4 pm, the annual Firefly Festival will be held at the Nantahala Outdoor Center Great Outpost in Gatlinburg, Tenn.. A free event for the general public, there will be live music provided by Captain Firefly, artwork, an insect zoo, kid’s activities, and a secret bioluminescence room, along with local food and drink vendors. At 1 pm and again at 3 pm, there will be a presentation on the synchronous firefly phenomenon in the Smokies.
Finally, on June 12, the final firefly event will be held at the Park Grill. After food and drink, along with a firefly presentation, the group will carpool to a secret site in the park. There will be a short hike involved and again, be prepared for inclement weather. The event starts at 7:30 pm at the Park Grill and ends by 11:00 pm. (Reservations required – space is very limited. Call 865.430.4756 for tickets. The cost is $50 per person.)
Todd is the executive director of Discover Life in America.