Fireflies synchronize in the Congaree National Park

Fireflies synchronize in the Congaree National Park

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Have you ever seen a firefly light up in your backyard?

It's one of those you have to see-it-to-believe-it moments. This weekend thousands of them are lighting up at the same exact time at the Congaree National Park.

Congaree National Park said they appear to be the most active from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. It's one of the only places and times you can see this phenomenon.

Former park ranger Fram Rametta said more people joined than on their busiest day of the year. Rametta started the fireflies walk 40 years ago.

The event has grown since then and Saturday evening hundreds of people joined at the Congaree National Park to watch the synchronized fireflies.  However, it wasn't always this famous. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park also has two weeks out of the year when the fireflies synchronize.

That became so famous they now have a lottery system where they only let 2,000 people attend each year.

Luckily it hasn't become quite that big at the Congaree National Park but park goers we're talking about their worries of that happening.

Rametta said it's believed to be a mating event for the fireflies. They only synchronize their lights two weeks out of the entire year and it usually happens when the sun goes down.

Rametta described it as a Christmas light show.

"We started noticing the Firefly synchronicity in the 80's and it kind of spread by word of mouth," Rametta said. "Only two to three weeks during the year the fireflies converge and start to blink their lights together. It's sort of like a mystery who is conducting this firefly synchronicity. It's a miracle."

Sylvanna Knapp works as a student volunteer to welcome visitors.

"This is a head lamp, you have to have a headlamp here in the national park so the fireflies don't get scared and hide because the light is too bright," Knapp said.

Saturday was the first time ever that park ranger worked in the park until 10 p.m. at night because of the growth this event is seeing year after year.

Park rangers believe there is one more weekend to see this synchronized light show.

There is a list of firefly viewing etiquette that watchers need to take heed to:

  • Please be considerate to other visitors viewing this phenomenon.
  • Because of the increased number of visitors, we ask that everyone keep noise levels to a minimum so that everyone can enjoy this special natural occurrence.
  • Use red filters on your flashlights. Bright lights can disturb the fireflies’ flash pattern and make it difficult for other people to see.
  • Do not use flash photography. The flashing can be difficult to capture on camera/video.
  • Parking is limited. Carpool when possible.
  • Be prepared for the weather.
  • Fireflies are only here for a few short weeks. Please do not capture them in jars or take them with you.

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