One of the best light shows in the US isn’t created by pyrotechnics or lasers, but fireflies. Every year, swarms of synchronous fireflies light up the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, flickering among the trees and making the forest look magical. This year, that light show will look a little different. The annual firefly-viewing event has been canceled by the National Parks Service due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss the show.
Discover Life in America will stream the fireflies on YouTube on June 1, 2020, starting at 8:00 PM ET. The event will include a short presentation about fireflies by the organization’s director of science, followed by firefly footage by professional firefly photographer Radim Schreiber. From the comfort of your home, you’ll be able to watch the dazzling synchronous fireflies, blue ghosts, and other indigenous firefly species light up the Great Smoky Mountains.
The event is free, though the organization is asking for a $5 contribution toward its biodiversity work in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Synchronous fireflies are bioluminescent beetles who synchronize their flashing light patterns as part of a mating ritual. Males fly and flash their light, and stationary females respond with a flash. Peak mating season lasts for two weeks each year, with dates varying every year.
“A version of this article was previously published on April 25, 2019, and was updated on May 29, 2020, with more information.”