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Fireflies slow to emerge in Smokies following cold snap

The show has improved each night in the mountains and these warmer temperatures should help more come out in the coming days.
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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ELKMONT, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Fireflies were slow to emerge this year in the Smoky Mountains following a cold snap. The show is an event thousands of people were hoping to see and Thursday evening another wave of hundreds of visitors will go into the forest with hopes to see a firefly that flashes like no other.

The Lance family is from Western North Carolina and heard about the fireflies from friends and just had to see it for themselves.

“I’m just used to the little normal ones down in Hendersonville I’ve not seen any of these,” said Melba Lance. “One of our friends told us about it. So, this is our first time and we’re enjoying. It’s beautiful.”

They were lucky enough to win a lottery the park service put in place to help manage the event. This year, the park service limited attendance to just 100 cars each night.

“It’s important to keep people on trail, so they’re not trampling on the fireflies that are out in the forest floor, and also to prohibit the use of white light, because that does disturb the firefly flash behavior,” said Becky Nichols, park entomologist.

As folks entered the Elkmont Forest, they were advised that the show had been delayed a bit.

“We’re not at peak just yet so there aren’t synchronous fireflies all over the place,” said a ranger at the beginning of the trailhead.

Nichols started her research back in March to predict when the fireflies would emerge. She says the cold weather and rain are to blame for the slow start.

“We have to look at projected temperatures. And sometimes those are a little bit off. You know, so it’s not a perfect science but we do, hopefully get generally in the right timeframe,” said Nichols.

The show has improved each night in the mountains and these warmer temperatures should help more come out in the coming days.

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