Synchronized Smokey Mountain Fireflies


23 Responses to “Synchronized Smokey Mountain Fireflies”

  1. Takuan says:

      /ˈsɪŋkrəˌnaɪz/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [sing-kruh-nahyz] Show IPA verb, -nized, -niz⋅ing.
    –verb (used with object)
    1. to cause to indicate the same time, as one timepiece with another: Synchronize your watches.
    2. to cause to go on, move, operate, work, etc., at the same rate and exactly together: They synchronized their steps and walked on together.
    3. Movies, Television.
    a. to cause (sound and action) to match precisely: to synchronize the sound of footsteps with the actor’s movements.
    b. to match the sound and action in (a scene).
    4. to cause to agree in time of occurrence; assign to the same time or period, as in a history.
    5. to adjust the periodicities of (two or more electrical or mechanical devices) so that the periods are equal or integral multiples or fractions of each other.
    –verb (used without object)
    6. to occur at the same time or coincide or agree in time.
    7. to go on, move, operate, work, etc., at the same rate and exactly together; recur together.
    Also, especially British, synâ‹…chroâ‹…nise.

    1615–25; < Gk synchronízein to be contemporary with, equiv. to sýnchron(os) synchronous + -izein -ize

    Related forms:
    synâ‹…chroâ‹…niâ‹…zaâ‹…tion, noun
    synâ‹…chroâ‹…nizâ‹…er, noun Unabridged
    Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
    Cite This Source
    Link To synchronize

  2. michael.belcher says:

    My girlfriend saw this in southern Illinois some years ago. She was pretty excited to find that it happens elsewhere.

  3. Brainspore says:

    If I were a firefly I’d probably be one of those poor outliers trying helplessly to keep the beat with everybody else.

  4. dculberson says:

    Sources say that it’s pretty amazing to unexpectedly come across this on a hike while high as a kite.

  5. ian_b says:

    this will replace twitter in a few years, we’ll call it blinkroblogging.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Near my sister in laws family farm in Blairsville, GA I noticed a group of thousands of fireflies on one tree near their property on a late night star gazing hike. I’m due to go back up there soon and will hit the spot with my GPS. I’ll be sure to put it up on the atlas…

  7. Zan says:

    This thread is useless without video

  8. aldasin says:

    Also, if you put on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon…

  9. iain010100 says:

    Check out WNYC’s Radiolab podcast on emergence (, one of the most fascinating scientific areas of study beautifully explained. In the episode they talk about the synchronous firefly activity as an aspect of emergence.

  10. J France says:

    That was the most awesome video of black and near-black compression artefacts.

    Did I miss anything?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I love synchronizing fireflies. It’s so astonishing, that this is achieved by self organization and without a “boss”.
    I made a little electronic circuit that simulates a synchronizing firefly.

  12. Boba Fett Diop says:

    - …. . / …. ..- — .- -. … / … ..- … .–. . -.-. – / -. — – …. .. -. –. .-.-.- / -.-. — — – . -. -.-. . / … .. –. -. .- .-.. .. -. –. / – …. . / — — – …. . .-. / … …. .. .–. .-.-.-

  13. Anonymous says:

    Even in the Atlanta suburb in which I live, there are similar effects. If you go out on a nice, warm night like tonight and quietly watch among the pines, you’ll see the fireflies doing this. If it’s a really good night, you might even be able to watch the flash shoot across the woods like a high-speed lightning-bug version of “the wave.” Beautiful little bugs. I always thought people who kill lightning bugs are sick and useless things.

  14. secretdark says:

    (Warning: gratuitous self-pimpage)

    I actually tried modelling firefly synchronisation (with only moderate success) using Processing a while ago. Some videos are here:

  15. hhype says:

    After watching the video I can confirm that I have seen this in my own backyard, just not as many fireflies. I was hoping for something a little more dramatic.

    Please bring back the Athanasius Kircher Society, if everybody knows about these out of the way things they are not very obscure, are they? Perhaps Atlas Obscura means they made it hard to see the fireflies in this video.

  16. librarybob says:

    I saw synchronization while a student at George Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt) in Nashville, summer of 1975. The major buildings there are arranged on either side of a long rectangle. A flash would start on one end and work its way down to the other, a moving line of light.

  17. Ito Kagehisa says:

    So wonderful, Dylan. Thank you.

  18. TheHikingStick says:

    This video clip is just begging for someone to turn it into one of those flash-the-scary-face-and-add-a-scream-clip videos. You’d totally sucker loads of people into watching it.

  19. PaulR says:



  20. franko says:

    wow, the internets are harsh this morning. i thought that was stunning.

  21. Pipenta says:

    Synchronized? How are these synchronized?

    They aren’t.
    They don’t.

    Even those blinking highway barriers seem synchronized every once a while. But they ain’t.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been 5 years in a row to Elkmont and the show is stunning. The bugs are much brighter and larger than in other places. You may have thought you’ve seen synchronization elsewhere but once you see the real thing here, you know it’s totally amazing.

  23. foobiebletch says:

    Elkmont is about 45 minutes away from my house. I’ve watched this every year for the last 5 years. Stunning to see in person.

Leave a Reply