Where is the PAFF?

The Annual PA Firefly Festival takes place on the grounds of the Black Caddis Ranch B & B in Kellettville, just 15 miles east of Tionesta on Route 666. The address is 13558 Route 666, Tionesta, Pa 16353. PARKING $5 donation, proceeds benefit PAFF and AmVets post 113.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Announcing the First Annual PA Firefly Festival, June 21-23, 2013.
Annually, in the warm evenings of June in the fields and forests of Pennsylvania, a natural phenomenon takes place that many of us have begun to take for granted.  However, almost 2 years ago, one very observant lady noticed this phenomenon while camping along side the banks of the Branch Creek on the North Country Trail.  Cathy Pedler was that camper, and she wondered if what she was seeing was significant, or just another everyday occurrence. As it turns out, her observation is very significant.

What Cathy observed that night were fireflies blinking in unison.  She went home to search and discovered that some rare species of fireflies are considered synchronous.  Cathy found the leading authority on the synchronous fireflies, Lynn Faust, in Tennessee. Supported by a grant from the Secure Rural Schools in Forest County, Lynn brought her team of scientists from the Universities of Tennessee and Georgia last June to study the fireflies in Forest County.  There are synchronous fireflies in the Smokey Mountains, but never were observed or confirmed to exist outside that area.  So, Lynn and her team came here to study "our" fireflies.

The scientists worked every night for 10 days, observing, collecting and identifying over 17 different species of fireflies in this area including one dubbed the Chinese Lantern.  They were able to confirm, through DNA testing, that indeed some of the fireflies we have in Forest County are the synchronous variety known as Photinus Carolinus.  This is exciting news.

While many of us as children took delight in catching lightning bugs or fireflies in a jar on the summer evenings to light our tents, there seems to more to the firefly than just a twinkling butt.  The humble and harmless firefly is what is known as an indicator species, and is usually a sign of a healthy, well balanced habitat.  We knew we had fireflies in this area, but never knew it was of any significance.  As it turns out, since 1974, the firefly has been designated the official insect of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  We want to insure that this insect gets its due respect, and continues to bring delight to future generations of children of all ages.

The First Annual PA Firefly Festival this coming June will focus on education and observation of the 17 species of fireflies including the synchronous firefly light show and the Chinese Lanterns  on the Tionesta Creek.  There will be plenty of campsites for those who want to stay for the entire weekend, or just bring your lawn chairs and picnic baskets for a Friday or Saturday evening of fun and amazement.  On Saturday afternoon, there will be events for the kids and music.  The planning committee is meeting monthly from now until June, and we will keep you posted about more details and information as it develops.  So, check back here frequently for more updates.

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