Discovery of synchronous firefly population expected to draw more visitors to Watoga |

West Virginians through the generations have marveled at the intermittent flashes of light that take place in the night skies of late spring and summer, as swarms of fireflies emerge from the ground to perform their annual bioluminescence-enhanced mating ritual.

While such displays can be spectacular, particularly if large populations of fireflies are involved, imagine viewing a light show created by thousands of lightning bugs all flashing at the same time, at the same intervals.

Such displays are created by synchronous fireflies, members of two or three of the 2,000 species of fireflies known to exist in North America. Until recently, synchronous fireflies could be found on public lands in the U.S. only in portions of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest, the Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area in east Tennessee, and South Carolina’s Congaree National Park.

As of this year, Watoga State Park in

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