LINVILLE, N.C. (WJHL) — Those who fail to snag a ticket to Rocky Fork State Park’s synchronous firefly viewing will not have to drive much farther to witness the bright spectacle. Over the state line on Grandfather Mountain, 200 tickets are available to see the phenomenon first-hand.
Grandfather Glows: Bioluminescent Evenings on Grandfather Mountain will only glitter on Grandfather Mountain for a few days as a rare firefly species lights the night sky during the bugs’ mating ritual.
“There is a call and response going on between the males and females of the species,” stated John Caveny with the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation in a news release. “The males are flying around, and the females are in the grass. One group of males will emit a flashing pattern as they try to find receptive females, and the females will respond by replicating that flashing pattern, which creates the synchronous effect.”
The area is home to 10-12 species of illumining insects, including Photinus carolinus, Blue Ghost fireflies and Glowworms. The synchronous fireflies thrive in Northern Hardwood Forests near the peak of the mountain, but they’re also known to disperse across the area.
Nature enthusiasts can experience the dazzling display on June 26, 29 and July 1 from the lower half of the mountain, with tickets available beginning Monday, May 23 on a first-come, first-served basis. Adult tickets cost $60, and children’s tickets are $35. Those prices drop for Bridge Club members to $51 and $29 for adults and children, respectively.
If rain leads to cancellation, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation will provide a backup immediately. The shows will last from 7-11 p.m. for each of the three viewings.
While Grandfather Glows marks the park’s first-ever public viewing, the luminescent insects were first discovered in the area in 2019 by North Carolina State University Professor Clyde Sorenson. Naturalists state that synchronous fireflies are known to exist in just a handful of remote pockets nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and also locations in Southeast Asia.
For those who have the opportunity to see an area ignite with the light of thousands of insects, Caveny stated that the experience is comparable to no other.
“I can count on one hand the times I’ve been left speechless by an event or occurrence in nature, and seeing the synchronous fireflies for the first time on Grandfather Mountain was one of them,” he said.
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