Tag: Elkmont

  1. 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...
  2. Elk Life Goes On during the Pandemic

    Elk Life Goes On during the Pandemic By Danny Bernstein, Photos by Joye Ardyn Durham With Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed, I often wonder what the animals are doing. They aren’t under a stay-at-home order, but they are at home. I think about the elk, an animal I feel I have a special relationship with. Unlike us right now, elk can wander through the park, and they Read more...
  3. Why Are Our Fireflies Synchronized?

    GSMA Firefly Event 2016

    During late May and early June, thousands of eager observers from around the world travel to the Elkmont area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to observe the phenomenon of synchronized fireflies flashing in the night. The synchronized flashing was first scientifically documented in the Smokies in the 1960s and has since been identified in places like Congaree National Park in South Carolina and Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania.

    But the Elkmont area still draws the biggest crowds. In fact, access to the area during firefly season is now managed by the National Park Service with a free lottery system.

    Most of the world’s hundreds of species of fireflies use their flashes to attract suitable mates. Generally, during breeding season, females wait patiently on the ground for males to fly over them and flash their flashers. If the females recognize the flashes (by flash length, flash intervals, and flash numbers) as coming from a male of their own species, they will respond with their own specific Morse-code-like sequence of flashes. Conversely, when the males recognize the correct flash response from a female, they respond with more flashes specific to their species. Once both male and female have confirmed that they are flirting with members of the same species, mating occurs.


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