When is the PA Firefly Festival?

Friday, June 25 and Saturday June 26 from 7 pm to Midnight. Subscribe to the PAFF Newsletter at Pafireflyevents.org to get early notification of the online registration links.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

PA Firefly Festival Inc. Adopts ESG for 2022

The PA Firefly Festival (PAFF) is committed to incorporating environmental, social and

governance (ESG) into their long-term planning at their September 18 board meeting.

Over the past two years, ESG has been incorporated by leading companies and non-

profit organizations into their long-term sustainability planning. Companies have moved

beyond verbally “supporting” environmental and social awareness by incorporating ESG

into every part of the organization.

PAFF has always embraced environmental and social responsibility. One core
mission is to use environmental science as a tool to unite diverse races and cultures

because everyone loves fireflies!

Adopting ESG will provide the following Benefits to PAFF :

1) Brings PAFF into the mainstream of corporate governance.

2) Promotion of ESG in all PAFF materials will inform potential grantors about

PAFF’s commitment to the environment and social responsibility.

ESG goals for 2022 include:

  •  PAFF will recruit additional culturally diverse environmental science academics to
join our advisory board.

  • Write a grant to solicit $5,000 of philanthropic support for providing up to ten days
of in-school PAFF presentations to fiscally challenged culturally diverse public

schools in 2022. Elementary schools will be the primary focus.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The 9th PA Firefly Festival Wrap-up


The PA Firefly Festival & Events have concluded for the season.  The weather cooperated and the fireflies were in abundance for  both the Friday and Saturday night events.  The Glow & Know Campout campers were also able to watch and identify synchronous fireflies and several others at each of the 3 campouts earlier in June.  We had just the right number of people at each event.  

At the festival, exhibitors from Bucknell University, Chapman State Park, Pennsylvania DCNR Forestry, Mass Audubon Firefly Watch and PA Firefly Festival provided interesting displays for the visitors to look at while check-in was happening.  Everyone enjoyed the music by Matt Miskie, and learned a lot from Don Salvatore's presentation "The Secret Lives of Fireflies" before the firefly walks and viewing began after dusk.  

At dusk, volunteer guides led small groups of people along the Tionesta Creek to observe "Chinese Lanterns" and then the groups were combined to go to the bleachers in the camp in the forest to view the "Synchronous Light Show".  Matt Miskie once again provided a serenade and Jeffrey Calta used the Bluetooth Audio system to provide the interpretive firefly talk to listeners using the wireless earpieces.  It made for a calm and relaxing encounter with the audience AND the fireflies.  

This year as we emerged from the constraints of the COVID19 pandemic, we decided to take the opportunity to reboot, and refocus our attention on the conservation through firefly education.  It worked.  Going forward, the PA Firefly Festival and Glow & Know Campouts will continue to emphasize education and quality experience over the crowds and extraneous festivities.  

Thank you to the PAFF Board of Directors Jeffrey Calta, Ken Butler, Peggy Butler, Sarah Lower, Matt Miskie, Sam Butler, and Jennifer Moore; expert presenter Don Salvatore; the volunteers Louise Salvatore, Patricia Calta, Rod Daum, Kay McKenna, Joe Butler, Tara Nadeau, Kara Lederer, and Summer Cogis for all the hard work not only at the festival but through out the year.  

Monday, June 7, 2021

Fireflies are heating up!

The first fireflies of the season are starting to emerge here in Forest County. We are observing the high tree top single flashes of Pyractomena borealis and just the beginning of Photuris versicolor complex aka "Chinese Lanterns" in the fields and along the creeks. The heat and rains predicted this week should help to bring out Synchronous fireflies within the next week or so. Wednesday, June 9 is our first Glow & Know campout at Scarlett Knob, in Fayette County near Ohiopyle. We are expecting to see a spectacular Synchronous show. We still have space available, so if you are a camper you won't want to miss this opportunity.

We are also promoting a new initiative that we learned about from Eileen Michelle of Maine. "Lights Out for Lightning Bugs". We are encouraging everyone in Forest County, and for that matter, everywhere in Pennsylvania to take part

Scientists believe that the world is losing firefly populations, and one reason is simply light pollution. It may not be surprising to imagine that fireflies are especially prone to the impacts of artificial light pollution. However, Tufts University firefly researcher, Avalon Owens, did a study here in Kellettville in 2019 to find out the specific reasons. In a controlled month-long study, she found that the flashing displays of male fireflies were impacted more by certain colors and intensities of light than others. What was even more concerning and compelling was that light of any color essentially shuts down the flashing replies of females to attract her mate. If fireflies are blinded by lights (especially white and amber lights) or their flashes are overpowered by extensive and prolonged light intrusion, they cannot find a mate and thereby, the next generation is lost.

So, help the fireflies and lightning bugs in your yard find each other. Turn off or shade your porch and outside lights, at least for the week of Sunday, June 20 through Saturday, June 26. You may even discover you can keep them off through the end of summer, or at least put them on a timer or motion detector, so they don’t burn all night.
  illustration by P. Butler, 2021

Light pollution not only impacts fireflies, it also impacts us. There are many studies that suggest our natural sleep/wake cycles are disrupted by the use of artificial lights and screens.  Poor sleep leads to more health and wellness issues.  So, we need to let our eyes and brains experience more darkness.   We need to get more comfortable with and embrace the darkness.  Allow yourself to experience a truly dark night this summer.  Turn out the lights, sit on your porch or around a dim glowing campfire.  Let your eyes adjust and you’ll be amazed by what you can see. You may even see a spectacular firefly show.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

On the Bright Side!

THANK YOU to everyone who registered.   The demand is growing every year, and the June 25th & 26th events sold out in less than 10-minutes!  We had over 700 hits on the registration site that morning for 100 spots. We appreciate that many of you are disappointed that you didn't get a spot, and hope that you will be able to join us at a festival in the future. 

On the bright side, there are still spaces for campers to register at the Glow & Know Campouts. These campouts are designed for novice to experienced campers.  They provide an immersive firefly experience for no more than 15 campers with experienced firefly guides and informative programs.  Each campout takes place in a different Western Pennsylvania location to avoid stressing any one habitat, and offers unique amenities and activities. The mid-week events also provide a better viewing opportunity, because we avoid the crowds on the weekends.  The first event on Wednesday, June 9 at Scarlett Knob Campground in Fayette County, near Ohiopyle, kicks off the Synchronous Firefly Season in Pennsylvania.   The last event on Wednesday, June 23rd at Kellettville Campground, brings the campout closer to home during what is typically the peak of Synchronous Fireflies in our neck-of-the-woods.

The G&K Campouts registration include: campsite fees, firewood, food and beverages, program materials, entertainment and guided walks.  Children under 10-years-old are free with a registered adult(s).  Campers must provide their own tent, (camper/trailer/RV where permitted) and all camping gear.  Check each location for information on specific requirements and rules.  

If you are not able to participate in an organized firefly event or campout this year, we hope you will take the time to look for fireflies in your own backyard or local farm fields.  We caution you to NOT venture into unfamiliar forest areas or terrain without a guide or educating yourself. The PA Firefly Festival organization supports and partners with other groups like Fireflyers International Network, Mass Audubon Firefly Watch, and the Xerces Society. You can find a multitude of resources and information on fireflies and how to enjoy, preserve and protect the fireflies in your area and the world at their sites as well.  Recently, the International Union of Conservation of Nature released a report on the impacts of tourism on fireflies all over the world.   PAFF has drafted its own letter of support towards creating and following sustainable firefly tourism practices. You can get more information on our website PAFireflyEvents.org and subscribe to our quarterly newsletter at the bottom of our home page.  

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Planning for the "NEW NORMAL" in 2021

 The planning for the 9th Annual PA Firefly Festival is underway.  We have new people and new ideas to help make the "New Normal" a reality.  We want to officially announce our three new PAFF Board members: Matt Miskie,  Jennifer Moore and Sarah Lower, Ph.D.  Matt is a professional musician and has been part of every PAFF musical line-up since 2013.  As usual, he will be sharing his musical talents and audio technical expertise to our festivities by providing not only entertainment to the audience, but posting the concert to Facebook Live for the virtual audience.  Jennifer Moore is a DCNR State Park Educator for Chapman Dam State Park, and has also been a contributor to the festival as a Nature Center Exhibitor.  Jen will be helping with the Nature Center Exhibits and Children's Activities at the festival events.  Sarah Lower, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at Bucknell University in the Biology Department.  Sarah was part of the original research team that came to Kellettville in 2012 to identify the Synchronous Fireflies in the Allegheny National Forest and has since returned to several PA Firefly Festivals.  Sarah is bringing students from Bucknell to study fireflies in Kellettville this summer and they will all be participating in the Nature Exhibits at the festival events. 

Our next new person is our Summer Research Intern, Caitlin Ball.  Caitlin is currently a Junior at Tufts University majoring in Biology with a minor in Geoscience.  She is from Hopkinton, New Hampshire.  Caitlin will be working for 6 weeks (or more) in Kellettville and Forest County doing research on the local fireflies and helping with the various firefly seasonal events including Glow & Know Campouts and the PA Firefly Festival events. 

To say the least, this past year has been challenging for everyone.  We tried to turn the challenge into a learning opportunity. Last year's festival became a Virtual Stay-At-Home festival that required us to learn new computer skills and adapt to the constraints of Social Distancing and the wearing of facemasks.  Now we know how to safely have an in-person festival and provide small intimate firefly tours.  Above all, we learned that the demand to see fireflies is still great and that the public is willing to support a new approach to the PA Firefly Festival.  

This year, the PA Firefly Festival will run for two nights Friday, June 25 AND Saturday, June 26.  The registration is $30 per person and limited to 50 people per night.  The events will now start at 7:00 pm until 12-midnight.  Music, Nature Exhibits, Firefly Experts, Presentations and Firefly Tours are all included.  Online registration will open May 1st. 

Additionally, PAFF is also sponsoring 3 unique camping experiences.  The Glow & Know Campouts became very popular last year, so we're offering 3 separate events at sites where Synchronous Fireflies can be found:

  • Glow & Know at Scarlett Knob in Ohiopyle on Wednesday, June 9
  • Glow & Know at Camp Lutherlyn in Butler County, Saturday, June 19
  • Glow & Know at Kellettville Campground, Forest County, Wednesday, June 23
These campouts are restricted to 15 campers (not including children under 10).  Registration is $100 per camper (children under 10 are free).  Registration includes campsite fees, firewood, meals, program materials, activities and firefly presentations.  These campouts offer a complete firefly and nature immersion experience for the novice to the expert camper.  Participants can even participate in the firefly research and community science firefly watch projects.

For notifications and links to the online registration for ALL the 2021 PA Firefly Events, subscribe to our quarterly PAFF newsletter on our website pafireflyevents.org.

Although change can be hard and these restrictions might seem severe.  We know that they are necessary to sustain the PA Firefly Festival as an organization as well as protect and conserve the firefly habitats and populations in Pennsylvania.  We look forward to celebrating fireflies and providing firefly educational programs for many years to come.