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.

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.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Firefly Puzzle for Fun & Prizes

 Here's a Crossword Puzzle created by our PAFF Board President, Jeffrey Calta for your amusement.  Prizes will be awarded to the first 6 correct entries.  Here are the rules and links to the puzzle:

 PAFFFIREFLY CROSSWORD PUZZLE CONTEST RULES

1. CLICK HERE FOR THE CROSSWORD PUZZLE

2. CROSSWORD PUZZLE MUST BE COMPLETED ELECTRONICALLY AND EMAILED/SHARED TO JEFFREYCALTA@GMAIL.COM BY NOON, DECEMBER 14,  2020.  ONE PUZZLE/PRIZE PER HOUSEHOLD.

3. COMPLETED PUZZLES WILL BE ENTERED INTO THE CONTEST ACCORDING TO DATE AND TIME RECEIVED AT JEFFREYCALTA@GMAIL.COM


4. THE FIRST SIX (6) CORRECTLY COMPLETED PUZZLES RECEIVED (BASED ON RECEIVED DATE AND TIME) WILL WIN A 2021 FIREFLY CALENDAR PRODUCED BY AWARD-WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER RADIM SCHREIBER OF FIREFLY EXPERIENCE.ORG.

5. WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL AND ANNOUNCED IN THE 2020 WINTER EDITION OF PAFF NEWSLETTER. MAILING ADDRESS WILL BE REQUESTED FOR CALENDAR TO BE MAILED.

6. COMPLETED PUZZLES WILL BE RECEIVED UNTIL DECEMBER 10, 2020. ANY RECEIVED AFTER THIS DATE ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR PRIZES.

7. NOTE: PUZZLE CAN BE OPENED AS A MICROSOFT EXCEL and/or GOOGLE SHEETS FILE. IT IS “PROTECTED”. PLACE THE CURSOR ON EACH OPEN SQUARE. WHEN THE WHITE CROSS APPEARS, A LETTER ENTRY CAN BE MADE. 

8.  THE GOOGLE SHEET IS A SHARED DOCUMENT. YOU MUST MAKE A COPY AND ENTER YOUR ANSWERS ON THE COPY.  DO NOT ENTER THEM INTO THE ORIGINAL OR OTHERS WILL SEE YOUR ANSWERS!


Have FUN! Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Post Festival and World Firefly Day Thoughts



Once again, we at PA Firefly Festival (PAFF) have learned a lot from experiencing this "new normal" while going through the pandemic this summer.  We hope you had a chance to enjoy the firefly season in your backyards this year as much as we did.  We also learned very quickly how to creatively use technology in spite of the bandwidth limitations here in the forest.  You can still view the Virtual Stay-At-Home PA Firefly Festival on our Youtube channel.  Those videos will remain there at least until December.   Also, if you didn't get a chance to tune in that day on the Live Music on Facebook by Matt Miskie, treat yourself to a private concert.  He's an amazing talent and added a lot to both the virtual experience as a contributor to the soundtracks in the videos, as well as live music to the folks here that afternoon and those watching fireflies that night.  So, thanks again to Matt.

The fireflies also seemed to enjoy their furlough and absence of a crush of people in the forest.  We still have a lot of fireflies in the area even as the synchronous season is waning with the Full Buck Moon.  We will be watching and monitoring.  The PAFF Summer Research Intern, Ms. Valerie Kuppek from Dickinson College is continuing her work on the Kellettville waterways survey through July, and analyzing the data she's collected.  She will have a report to share by fall that should help us in future years to come.

There is one thing for sure, change is inevitable.  We never expected that a novel virus would interrupt our lives so much this year, and that many of the plans which were so painstakingly made and anticipated would be eliminated.  However, we also learned there's  A LOT we can do without, that less is more, simplicity is better, and peace and quiet is a treasure often taken for granted in this age (which fireflies already know). We are committed to our mission, and we will focus on the experience rather than numbers.  Your support and interest in fireflies are appreciated.  With your help and cooperation, PAFF will endeavor to protect the fireflies and conserve their habitat for your enjoyment and the generations to come.

Until next year, #GlowAtHome2020.
Photos by Peggy Butler, 2020