Witness spectacular synchronous fireflies at these 3 spots in the U.S.

One of nature’s best light shows can be seen in late spring

Prepare to be dazzled this spring by a unique natural phenomenon. From late May to early June (typically), certain firefly species sync up their glowing patterns in a breathtaking mating ritual, turning the night sky into a magical light show.

Synchronous fireflies, scientifically known as Photinus carolinus, are among the rare few firefly species capable of these coordinated flashes. Among the 2,000 species worldwide, only about a dozen exhibit this remarkable behavior, with just three species found in North America, the National Park Service reports.

“It is one of the most special experiences that you can have in the natural world and the nighttime skies to be able to have this dazzling series of lights that then abruptly stop for eight seconds,” Dana Soehn, a spokesperson for the Great Smoky Mountains national park, said to the Guardian. “It puts you in an almost magical type of environment.”

Ready to catch this one-of-a-kind display? Here are three spots across the United States where you can witness the synchronous firefly magic:

Congaree National Park — South Carolina

Discover a hidden gem for synchronous fireflies just four hours from Atlanta at Congaree National Park in South Carolina. These elusive insects synchronize their glowing display in late May and early June, creating a remarkable sight. Don’t miss the 2024 Synchronous Fireflies Viewing Event from May 16-25. Passes are required, and are available via a lottery system on recreation.gov.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park — North Carolina and Tennessee

Experience nature’s light show in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spanning North Carolina and Tennessee. The park, home to large populations of these enchanting insects, carefully manages vehicle access for optimal viewing. To witness this natural wonder, visitors must secure a vehicle reservation via lottery. For more details on this “once in a lifetime experience,” visit the park’s Synchronous Fireflies web page.

Allegheny National Forest — Pennsylvania

In 2012, a colony of synchronous fireflies was discovered in Pennsylvania’s only national forest — Allegheny National Forest. Each year since, the Pennsylvania Firefly Festival has celebrated this marvel. Held in Kellettville, the event unfolds June 28-29, featuring live music, captivating exhibits, and, of course, mesmerizing fireflies. Adventurers can also opt for Glow & Know Campouts on June 22 and 25. Lottery registration for all events is open until March 31.