Rare 'Blue Ghost Fireflies' Appear In Tennessee State Park
By Sarah Tate
June 7, 2021
Lucky visitors to a state park in East Tennessee may find themselves in the presence of synchronous and blue ghost fireflies, some of the rarest that can be found within the park. According to WKRN, the unique fireflies appear for a few weeks each year at Rocky Fork State Park, which has around 17 different breeds.
"Once thought to only be in the Smokies, now we're finding them more and more places throughout Southern Appalachia," said Tim Pharis, Rocky Fork Park manager.
Blue ghost fireflies are similar in size to regular fireflies, but their dim blue light stays illuminated longer, sometimes up to a full minute. Pharis said the unified blinking of the synchronous fireflies can stir up emotions in many visitors, evoking reactions from giddy laughter to tears of wonder and awe.
"It's made some people cry, some people giggle, but everybody is mesmerized by them," he said.
The sight is be a first for many, including Kingsport resident Chuck Turner.
"We came to do something that I never even heard of three, four weeks ago," he said. "It's going to be very spectacular."
"I'm very excited, this is a special occasion," said Brayden Paulk, another visitor. "I've never seen blue fireflies, and I've never seen synchronized."
Even Pharis, a seasoned park manager who's seen it all before, was excited for the chance to witness the lights again.
"I thought it was a somewhat life changing event," he said. "I wait all year long for these firefly programs."
Rocky Fork State Park is closed at night, so the only way to see the unique fireflies is through the park's lottery. While this year's lottery is closed, you can still have a chance to see the lights next summer.
Photo: Getty Images