(Above photo taken by Radim Schreiber)

By Adam McCully

The word majestic gets used quite a bit these days, and while there are many majestic views and locations in the PA Great Outdoors region, few can match the level of jaw dropping, awe inspiring, pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming amazitude that can be achieved by witnessing millions of fireflies engage in a synchronized mating dance that will make you think the very stars in the sky have left their heavenly domicile to put on a nighttime cabaret for your very own viewing pleasure!  Firefly season across the half-million acre Allegheny National Forest usually starts around June Solstice or the first day of summer and last for several weeks into mid-July.

Over fifteen different species of fireflies can be spotted in acacophony of bio-luminescence that turns a dark forest night into a laser light show. One such species, the P. Carolinus, emit their flashes in a synchronous pattern that are reminiscent of Christmas lights being strung through the forest. This rare breed of firefly was discovered in the Allegheny National Forest during 2012 by a team of biologists that specialize in studying fireflies. These firefly fanatics came all the way from Tennessee and Georgia to witness this once-in-a-lifetime show. The only other known habitat for this species in North America is the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee. So far, over 15 different species of fireflies have been identified in the ANF. Including the Photuris firefly, dubbed the “Chinese Lantern” due to its increased brightness. The Photuris shines nearly fifty-percent brighter than most other species of firefly due to a corrugated pattern on the scales covering its hind end. It’s interesting to note that researchers have observed and copied this pattern in order to create brighter LED’s.

(Above photo taken by Radim Schreiber)

Hands down, the best place for firefly viewing is the Black Caddis Ranch in Kelletville, PA. Once a year, they’re home to a special event that brings in visitors from around the globe. They call it the Pennsylvania Firefly Festival and it takes place on the fourth Saturday in June. Last year, the event boasted over 1,000 firefly fanatics, including visitors from Puerto Rico, Brazil, Spain, China, South Africa, and England. You don’t get that many people showing up unless you’ve got something truly special. This is an all-day/all-night event that has something for everyone. There’s live music, food trucks, and of course, one of the best light shows Mother

Nature can muster up.

For more information on this once-a-year event, head over to Here you can find all the details on the PA Firefly Festival, including what bands will be playing, what gear you should bring, and even a link to secure your camping spot.

Find more information to help plan your trip to the PA Great Outdoors region online at or call (814) 849-5197.

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