Have you ever gone outside on a dark spring or summer night, away from lights of nearby houses and streets, maybe to some park or unnamed spot of wild land where it is possible, if you’re feeling brave enough, to switch off your flashlight and stand cloaked in a cape of total blackness? As you stared into the nothingness, have you ever watched with awe the silent, twinkling lights of tiny insects called fireflies? On and off and on and off, tiny sparks that seem to dance in the black space between earth and sky? As you stood cuddled by the blackness, have you felt like you were being serenaded by a kind of silent music that made you glow on the inside, like the fireflies were glowing on the outside?
Right now in western North Carolina, the fireflies are becoming active, decorating the blackness with the magic of their dancing lights. Did you know fireflies are really not a fly at all, but rather a kind of beetle? And that there are more than 300 thousand species of beetle in the world? That the beetle population numbers higher than the ALL the kinds of plants on the entire earth? Let me repeat that: there are more kinds of beetles on earth than there are kinds of plants! Our planet is truly AMAZING!
Whether you call them fireflies or lightning bugs, these fascinating creatures are easy to observe. Though the display will be more impactful if the surrounding area is dark, it is not completely necessary. Your backyard might be a fine place to go watch the show. Or you can venture to a nearby park. I highly suggest scheduling a date with Mother Nature one night soon for one of the most magical shows on earth.
If you live close enough to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, there is a two week period at the beginning of June where a special kind of firefly lights up the night. Called a synchronous firefly, this species attracts thousands of people each night, some from all over the world. The display can be fabulous, if all details conspire to make it so. I have been to see it twice, once which was among the most amazing natural things I have ever witnessed (read about it HERE) and once that was lackluster. It is not like a full moon or high tide that is easily predicted. Instead, this phenomenon is highly variable depending on the temperature and weather of the exact place. The park staff can tell you when it usually happens but they cannot guarantee it will be spectacular on any given night during the two week period the beetles are searching for mates.
My advice to you is to just plan a night to spend some time outside. In the dark. Without a flashlight!
It’s not something most people ever do, but in my opinion, it is one of the most magical and amazing things you can do, truly a bit of medicine for your soul.
Try it. Then let me know how you liked it!