Smoky Mountains Wildlife & Biodiversity

  1. Two dragonfly species recently spotted for the first time in the park

    Two dragonfly species recently spotted for the first time in the park In the past few months, two dragonfly species have been documented for the first time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Little Blue Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax miniscula) and the Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa) were both known to exist outside the Smokies and only recently recorded inside the park boundary. “We were Read more...
  2. Wildflowers 101: Non-traditional Blooms

    Wildflowers 101: Non-traditional Blooms Story and images by Tom Harrington When one gets into wildflowering, often they will find that it involves continuously learning new facts. In doing research for this article, I learned new things about hearts-a-bustin’ and Jack-in-the-pulpit. Today we will examine these flowers as well as leather vase vine. I thought it would be Read more...
  3. Word from the Smokies: Meet the Wild Creatures Native to Appalachia’s ‘Sky Islands’

    Word from the Smokies: Meet the Wild Creatures Native to Appalachia’s ‘Sky Islands’ by Aaron Searcy, Publications Associate A new study is taking a closer look at the startling forms of life that exist only on some of Appalachia’s highest mountaintops—some of which are in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On these ancient peaks, dubbed ‘sky islands,’ are the last living remnants of the region’ Read more...
  4. Word from the Smokies: Retired Biology Professor Dan Pittillo Still Digs Research

    Word from the Smokies:  Retired Biology Professor Dan Pittillo Still Digs Research By Frances Figart, Creative Services Director I met and became friends with Dr. Dan Pittillo through this column. He writes me an email every time one of my articles is published here; in fact, that’s how I know what day they run. He always tells me something I didn’t know about my topic, and he shows the kind of appreciation upon Read more...
  5. Wildflowers 101: Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron

    Wildflowers 101: Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron Story and images by Tom Harrington How many of you enjoy seeing mountain laurel and rhododendron in bloom? In this issue we will examine mountain laurel and Catawba rhododendron since they bloom in May and June. As of the second week of May, mountain laurel was blooming on Ace Gap Trail in large numbers. Many were at peak bloom Read more...
  6. Wildflowers 101: Trillium

    Wildflowers 101: Trillium Top: Painted trillium, Bottom: Nodding trillium Story and images by Tom Harrington As one gets into “wildflowering” in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they will most likely develop some favorite wildflowers or become fascinated with certain species. One of my favorite wildflowers is trillium, of Read more...
  7. Smokies Science Series Returns with a Spotlight on Butterflies

    Smokies Science Series Returns with a Spotlight on Butterflies by Aaron Searcy, Publications Associate Warren Bielenberg spends a lot of time photographing Southern Appalachian butterflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But he willingly admits that his journey of butterfly discovery didn’t begin in earnest until he retired from 34 years as a park ranger and began volunteering in Cades Cove Read more...
  8. Charismatic Beetles Light up the Night

    Charismatic Beetles Light up the Night By Frances Figart, Creative Services Director Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced Tuesday, April 27, that its popular synchronous firefly viewing event in Elkmont Campground will resume this year June 1–8 after a hiatus last spring to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In 2019, the spectacle had attracted more than 28,000 people Read more...
  9. The monarchs are coming!

    The monarchs are coming! By Will Kuhn, Director of Science and Research with Discover Life in America  Monarch butterflies have begun their yearly northward migration and are due to arrive in the Smokies any day now. This time of year, you may start to see Danaus plexippus flying around the region. These attractive orange and black butterflies have made the long Read more...
  10. Looking at Birds Through an Artist’s Eye 

    Looking at Birds Through an Artist’s Eye  Story and artwork by Gaynell Lawson  With a fascination and enjoyment of birds, how do I go from studying a bird to painting a fanciful image of the bird? For that matter, why paint a fanciful bird instead of a true likeness? Carolina Wren by Gaynell Lawson As I determine the bird’s habits and attributes, an Read more...

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