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Blue Ghost Fireflies

I’m always on the lookout for something out of the ordinary to do on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, a day at the spa is nice, but I would rather be outside. A bicycle tour in Canada, whale watching in Hawaii, bio-luminance kayaking tour in Puerto Rico. Collecting memories, for me, far exceeds collecting things. The great news is you don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money to witness something magical right here in your own back yard.

As the weather warms in the Southern Appalachians, the blue ghosts start to appear. Blue ghost fireflies that is. Native to our region, they begin their mating season usually around the beginning of June and lasts anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. What makes the blue ghost fireflies different from our “run of the mill” backyard lightening bugs; they glow opposed to flashing on and off. The females are flightless so they stay on the forest floor, and they are pale yellow or white in color. The males come out just after sunset and flies over the ground in all their blue glowing glory, looking for the love of their lives (if you know what I mean).

The difference between “flashing” and “glowing” may not seem like a big deal until you see it. The blue ghosts regularly streak through the sky, glowing for up to a minute at a time. Instead of the normal yellow/white color flashing we see in our backyards, the light they emit is an eerie blue-green shade.

Their habitat is shrinking, in 1825 they where sited as far away as Arkansas. Now there are only a few places left to view them in the Appalachian forest. DuPont State Forest located in Cedar Mountain, NC about 30 miles outside of Asheville, is a favorite spot.

Local legend states that the glowing blue fireflies are the ghosts of confederate soldiers, although being blue; it would make more sense if they were the ghosts of union soldiers

The blue ghost fireflies are well worth a trip to the mountains during the month of June. If you can’t make it this season, go outside when it’s good and dark, sit quietly, and you may be surprised at the light show in your very own backyard.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville offers a family-friendly firefly viewing event. For more information, visit Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center.

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