Once thought to inhabit only the Smoky Mountains, “synchronous” fireflies – that is, fireflies that blink on and off at the same time – have now been spotted in various locations around our region. The rare Photinus Carolinus species light up only from late June to mid-July. To celebrate their presence, many places are offering programs to discover this species for yourself.
Firefly Walks at Allegany State Park
In 2012, the Firefly International Research and Education Team (FIRE Team) confirmed the synchronous firefly’s existence in the Branch Creek area of Allegheny National Forest.
After lead naturalist, Adele Wellman, and others from Allegany State Park received the training necessary to identify the species, they looked in similar habitats and were able to identify the synchronous firefly and make its first confirmed sighting in New York State.
This summer, Allegany State Park’s Environmental Education Department will offer hikes to view the fireflies. Firefly Walks are scheduled for Tuesday, June 30 and Thursday, July 2 at 9:30 p.m. More dates will be announced soon. Participants should meet at on France Brook Road, Site 29, near the entrance to Camp 12.
Please note, in the event of severe thunderstorms, the event will be cancelled. However, the fireflies do display in rain and you may still observe them on your own if you wish.
For information on other programs, please check Allegany State Park’s activity schedule at www.facebook.com/alleganystatepark , or call 354-9101 ext. 232.
Firefly Hike at Audubon Nature Center, June 27
Recently, synchronous fireflies have been seen at the Audobon Nature Center in Jamestown, NY, and a hike is planned to search for them on Saturday, June 27, 9-10:30 p.m.
Hikers are reminded to wear warm, comfortable clothing, as even in June it may be chilly at night. Insect repellent is recommended. Bring a flashlight, but be prepared to use it sparingly so you can enjoy the fireflies.
The hike will be led by Jeff Tome, Senior Naturalist at the Nature Center. The cost for the hike is $12, $8 for Friends of the Nature Center.
Reservations are required by Thursday, June 25. Call (716) 569-2345 or use the online form by clicking through “Firefly Hike” at www.jamestownaudubon.org.
PA Firefly Festival, June 27
The third annual PA Firefly Festival (PAFF) is taking place on June 27 on the grounds of the Black Caddis Ranch (BCR) in Kellettville, PA. The free festival celebrates the state insect of Pennsylvania, the firefly Photuris pennsylvanica, often referred to as a lightning bug. The Allegheny National Forest is prime habitat for 15 different species of firefly, including the synchronous firefly.
The festival begins at noon with family-friendly activities, exhibits, arts/crafts, food vendors and live music until sundown. Guided firefly walks begin at 8 p.m. and go until midnight.
This year, the festival will welcome Superintendent Sherry Tune, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Allegheny National Forest, naturalists Jennifer Moore from Chapman Dam and Chris Mosebach from Oil Creek State Parks, DCNR Forester Cecile Stetler, Rodney Daum from Tionesta Lake/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Dr. Denise Piechnik, entomologist from the University of Pittsburgh/Bradford, all of whom will be attending and exhibiting at the festival.
The music schedule is as follows:
12:30 – Joyful Noise
1:30 – Detention
2:30-The Uriah Effect
3:30 – Matt Miskie
4:30 – Stoney & Co.
5:30 – Dominick DeCecco
6:30 – Broke Stranded & Ugly
7:30 – The Hills & The Rivers
There will be T-shirts and other merchandise for sale to help raise funds for future festivals.
Synchronous fireflies are best observed in the dark, undisturbed forest. Whether you come for the entire weekend, or just come to enjoy the festival, it is recommended that you dress for an evening in the forest, wear sturdy shoes, bring a lawn chair/blanket and use a bug repellent. In the event of severe thunderstorms, the events will be cancelled.
This is a family-friendly event, no alcohol or drugs are permitted on the premises.
If you would like to tent-camp at the BCR, please call (814) 463-7606. For other lodging and camping in the area, visitwww.forestcounty.com. For more information about the festival and fireflies, visit pafireflyfestival.blogspot.com or visit PA Firefly Festival, Inc. on Facebook.
Fireflies can only been seen lighting up the night around WNY and Northern PA for a few short weeks every summer, so get out and enjoy these fascinating creatures!