‘Magical’: synchronous fireflies light up US national parks

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‘Dazzling phenomenon’: fireflies light up in unison once a year – video As fireflies in the southern Appalachians search for their mates each year, a crowd of people awaits them, hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare light show known to some as a life-changing experience. For two weeks in late spring, near dusk, the synchronous fireflies at the Great Smoky Mountains national park put on a spectacular display across the landscape, flashing in unison for about five seconds and then stopping, together, like twinkling Christmas lights. “It can give you the impression like you’re standing in a stadium and people are starting to do ‘the wave’,” said Dana Soehn, a spokesperson for the park, which sits between Tennessee and North Carolina. “It is this dazzling one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon.” Photinus carolinus, the species found at Great Smoky Mountains national park, performs this dance once a year as part of its mating display. The fireflies produce light using a chemical reaction in an organ at the end of their abdomens, said Orit Peleg, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who is currently part of a team at the park studying the fireflies. It’s less clear why the […]

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