What are Blue Ghost Fireflies?

The Blue Ghost fireflies (Phausis reticulate) are a rare, beautiful, and unique firefly species found in the mountains of western North Carolina, including the Brevard area. They are known for their distinctive blue-green glow, different from the typical yellow or green light emitted by other firefly species.

They are the only firefly in North America that emits blue light, and they are one of the smallest fireflies in the world, measuring only about 1/4 inch long.

Do both the male and female emit a blue light?

Blue ghost fireflies are only active for a few weeks each year during their mating season in late May and early June. During this time, the males fly low over the forest floor, glowing with a steady blue light. The females, who do not fly, will glow with a fainter blue light from the ground. When a male sees a female, he lands near her and flashes his light in a specific pattern. If the female is interested, she will flash her light back. Once they have matched patterns, they will mate.

 

Where can I see the Blue Ghost fireflies?

Some popular locations for viewing Blue Ghost fireflies in Brevard and the surrounding areas include:

  • DuPont State Recreational ForestOne of the most popular spots for viewing Blue Ghost fireflies. The forest offers several hiking trails that lead to streams and waterfalls where the fireflies live.
  • Pisgah National ForestThis large forest has many trails and camping areas, making it ideal for seeing fireflies.
  • The Cradle of Forestry – This historic site in Pisgah National Forest offers guided tours during the Blue Ghost firefly season.
  • Cataloochee Valley – This remote valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is another location for viewing.
  • Chimney Rock State ParkThis park is located about an hour’s drive from Brevard and is known for its scenic views and hiking trails. The Blue Ghost fireflies live along the trails in the park.

What is the best time to see the Blue Ghost Fireflies?

Typically late May to early June is the best time to see this unique little firefly.

This species of firefly is an integral part of the Appalachian ecosystem. The Blue Ghosts are a food source for bats and other predators, and they help pollinate plants; they are a popular tourist attraction, and people come from all over the world to see them.

Unfortunately, blue ghost fireflies’ numbers are declining due to habitat loss and light pollution, such as artificial light from homes and businesses which disrupt their mating rituals. If you want to preserve the blue ghost fireflies, do your part to protect them. You can do this by supporting organizations working to conserve their habitat and by reducing your use of artificial light.

To increase your chances of seeing the Blue Ghosts plan your visit on a clear night with minimal light pollution. Respect their habitat by not using flashlights or disturbing their natural environment.