Tickets sell out in minutes for Grandfather Mountain’s rare synchronous fireflies viewing events

LINVILLE, N.C. — For the first time in the park’s history, Grandfather Mountain will be welcoming the public to watch firsthand the unique spectacle of its synchronous fireflies this summer.

The viewing nights, titled “Grandfather Glows: Bioluminescent Evenings on Grandfather Mountain,” are scheduled for June 26, June 29 and July 1.

UPDATE 5/26/2022: Tickets for all three viewing events are sold out.

Tickets for Grandfather Glows were supposed to go on sale Monday, but overwhelming demand crashed the website. Ticket sales will resume Thursday at 10 a.m. In an email update, Grandfather Mountain stated ticket sales would be moved to a third-party platform to ensure that technical issues would not happen again.

Only 200 tickets will be available for each nighttime viewing event. The cost for adults is $60 and $35 for children. For Bridge Club members, adult tickets are $51 and children’s tickets are $29. The event lasts from 7 to 11 p.m.

Educational programs will be provided by the park’s naturalists from 7 p.m. until dark during the event. Naturalists will be around during the event to answer questions and lead programs on fireflies, basic astronomy and the other night creatures at Grandfather Mountain. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and to be prepared for the varied mountain’s weather and conditions.

As a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, the nature preserve in Linville, North Carolina, has long been known as a haven for more than 70 rare or endangered species. However, it was only recently discovered that a rare species of firefly, known as Photinus carolinus, inhabited the mountain.

In 2019, a professor from North Carolina State University came across the fireflies during a late-night walk through the woods during a stay on the mountain. He was later able to confirm that the illuminating insects were, in fact, the rare synchronous firefly.

“One of the reasons this species has gone undetected for so long at Grandfather is that there are not a lot of people in the park at night,” explained John Caveny, director of education and natural resources at the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, which operates the preserve.

“The light show that the synchronous fireflies put on is actually a mating ritual,” Caveny said. “There is a call and response going on between the males and females of the species. The males are flying around, and the females are in the grass. One group of males will emit a flashing pattern as they try to find receptive females, and the females will respond by replicating that flashing pattern, which creates the synchronous effect.”

“I can count on one hand the times I’ve been left speechless by an event or occurrence in nature, and seeing the synchronous fireflies for the first time on Grandfather Mountain was one of them,” Caveny added.

For more information on Grandfather Mountain’s synchronous fireflies, go to grandfather.com/fireflies.

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