Millions travel to the Smoky Mountains each year to experience the park's scenic landscapes and explore its dense population of wildlife. In fact, over the years, the Smokies have become a large source of discovery when it comes to life.
Discover Life In America is a non-profit that has help discover over 900 species new to science over the last 15 years. Executive Director, Todd Witcher believes that biodiversity in the park is important. "Our mission is really to document all forms of life in the park, educate people why biodiversity is important, why we should try to conserve the biodiversity around us and to get people involved."
One way DLIA is getting the public involved is by hosting synchronous firefly tours. "There are 20 different species of fireflies in the park. Most people think you see a firefly and all of the fireflies everywhere are all the same, but we have 20 different kinds. Of course, we have this phenomenon here in the Smokies where they are synchronized. There is one kind called the Synchronous Fireflies which during their mating season which is about 2 weeks in June, they synchronize."
Like a wave moving across the forest, the fireflies begin to flash and then suddenly stop at the same time. "It only happens one other place. It's not the same species of firefly, but another species of firefly that also synchronizes in Southeast Asia."
Tours are available of this phenomenon though June 11th. Find out more at www.nps.gov.