The Great Smoky Mountains attracts synchronized fireflies and people who love them

Posted at 9:10 AM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 10:20:41-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For 18-years, Great Smoky Mountains National Park employee John Gaeto helps field the first question.

"[Visitors] want to know if this is the place where you see the fireflies," he said.

For a couple of weeks, once the weather warms up, the area near Jake's Creek and Little River Trail attracts fireflies and the people who love them.

"We are one of just a few places in the world where you can see these synchronized fireflies," Gaeto said.

During the day, the bugs are kind of a nuisance, but just wait until the sun sets and insects become the main attraction.

"It looks exactly like someone has turned the Christmas lights on in the trees," he said.

Nearly 29,000 people applied for passes to the annual park event, with only a 6% chance of making the cut. Those who do wrap their phones and flashlights with red cellophane to keep white light at bay. They then take their seats beside the trees, take pictures and enjoy the view.

This year's lottery winners included visitors from 42 states, Washington D.C. and several countries.

The woods are so dark cameras struggle to capture the scene. It's a phenomenon best observed in-person. So if you didn't win the lottery this year try, try again.

"Just keep on trying because eventually you're going to get it," he said.