The firefly shuttles between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont will be running June 4-11, 2014. The reservation system at http://www.recreation.gov/tourParkDetail.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72413 will open at 10:00 AM (Eastern Time) on April 30th.
Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns.
Fireflies (also called lightning bugs) are beetles. They take from one to two years to mature from larvae, but will live as adults for only about 21 days. While in the larval stage, the insects feed on snails and smaller insects. Once they transform into their adult form, they do not eat.
Their light patterns are part of their mating display. Each species of firefly has a characteristic flash pattern that helps its male and female individuals recognize each other. Most species produce a greenish-yellow light; one species has a bluish light. The males fly and flash and the usually stationary females respond with a flash. Peak flashing for synchronous fireflies in the park is normally within a two-week period in late May to mid-June.
The firefly shuttle program operating dates for 2014 will be June 4 – June 11, 2014. Parking Pass sales will begin at 10:00am on April 30, 2014.The demand for passes typically exceeds the supply – please be aware tickets sell out quickly.
- During the program operating dates, a parking pass is required for evening access to the Sugarlands parking lot and the firefly shuttle to the Elkmont viewing area. There is a limit of one parking pass per household per season.
- Visitors must present identification upon entering the parking lot. The identification must match the name on the reservation and must be presented by a person in that vehicle. Please bring exact change for the trolley fee ($1/person.)
- There are no refunds and no rain checks. The shuttle trolley ride will be cancelled if weather presents a threat to public safety. Environmental conditions may affect the intensity of the firefly ”show”. Both conditions are beyond the control of the National Park Service.
Light Show Etiquette
Flashlights disrupt the fireflies and impair people’s night vision. The light show is best when you:
• Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.
• Use your flashlight only when walking to your viewing spot.
• Point your flashlight at the ground.
• Turn off your flashlight when you find your viewing spot.
You can also help protect the fireflies and their habitat:
• Do not catch the fireflies.
• Stay on the trail at all times.
• Pack out all of your garbage.