In certain parts of the country, look out as dusk approaches and you will see short little flashes of light dotting the air. What causes that?
Fireflies of course!
These small beetles, also known as lightening bugs are scattered throughout most of the Eastern part of the United States. Of course yes, there are fireflies in the West, but amazingly enough they don’t glow!
So, if you do want to spend a night under the stars listening to the gentle sounds of nature and watching the spectacle of quick bursts of light from the grass to the tree branches, there are a few places you’ll have to travel.
Let’s take a look.
Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains
One of the best places in the entire world to see fireflies in action is in and around the Great Smoky Mountains. The fireflies in this area are known to be incredibly active between May in June, depending on the air and soil temperature.
They spend the two weeks during their highest peak flashing their bursts multiple times every few seconds. To get a good look, head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where they have firefly shuttles to get you to the action.
Pennsylvania: Allegheny National Forest
Tucked into the delicate branches of the Allegheny National Forest you’ll find a top spot for watching fireflies in the United States. It was here where people first noticed the sheer number of fireflies that gathered in the area, and for a long time, it was considered the top spot for viewing.
Now, the area in and around the national forest celebrates the Pennsylvania Firefly Festival every 4th Saturday in June. At the festival you can learn from guides about fireflies, take in live music and games, and spend the night camping.
Florida: Blue Spring State Park
Fireflies love being around both humid weather and water, so it should be no surprise that there are pockets of Central Florida that are great spots to enjoy the sites. Blue Spring State Park is one of those firefly spots.
Here, the best time to visit to see fireflies goes from late March to early April. And, since the fireflies typically arrive after dusk, visitors to the park who indicate they want to stay to see the fireflies can get a special pass to stay after the park closes.
South Carolina: Congaree National Park
One of the lesser known parks in the system, Congaree National Park in South Carolina is also home to some of the top firefly “shows” in the country. And, since this park isn’t quite as popular as others, chances are you might have the ability to watch the fireflies all by yourself!
This old growth forest is surrounded by swamp lands, a perfect habitat for fireflies. The best times to see the fireflies is during late May and early June, the two week period generally shifts a bit due to weather conditions.
We think you’ll find each of these parks and forests to be the perfect viewing spots for fireflies in all of North America. Spend a night camping under the stars, and don’t forget to bring your camera!