When is the PA Firefly Festival?

Friday, June 24 and Saturday June 25 from 7 pm to Midnight. Subscribe to the PAFF Newsletter at Pafireflyevents.org to get early notification of the online registration links.

Friday, August 5, 2022

International Firefly Symposium, Portugal 2022

  Ken & I were proud to attend the International Firefly Symposium in Gaia, Portugal in June 2022, sponsored by Fireflyers International Network (FIN).  We had been waiting for 2 years for the opportunity which was delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns and travel restrictions.  Since 2012, we have learned more about fireflies than we ever thought we would need to know.  We've learned about the biology of fireflies, ecology, conservation, and the issues concerning ecotourism thanks to the help of firefly researchers and expert authors like Lynn Faust, Sarah Lower, Avalon Owens, and of course Sara Lewis.  So, we were honored to be asked to present at this year's IFS about firefly tourism in Pennsylvania. 

Portugal as a country is very special.  The cities of Porto and Villa Nova de Gaia are beautiful and historic.   The terraced landscapes along the Duro river were breathtaking.  We enjoyed meeting the people, eating the food, especially the seafood, and drinking the vinho.  

The FIN/IFS held at the Parque Biologico de Gaia was three days of presentations and exhibits on firefly ecology, behavior, taxonomy, phylogeny, genetics, conservation, citizen science, art, and society.  It sounds very heavy and scientific, but surprisingly inspirational and enlightening! 

The IFS was mainly a chance for us to meet other researchers and firefly experts from around the world that we couldn't pass up. Our presentation titled "Pennsylvania Firefly Tourism: Be Careful What You Wish For" was well received by the audience, but we took away much more than we gave.  We met over 70 people from across the US, North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.  Most impressive were the young students who presented and exhibited posters.   PAFF was among the sponsors that helped the students with travel stipends so they could attend the IFS.  The most amazing thing that stood out for us was that even though we had just met most of these people for the first time in person (many we knew by name or from virtual meetings), we became fast friends all because of a little lightning bug.  We will have many fond memories to look back on, but now we look forward to Mexico City in 2025!

Friday, April 15, 2022

Planning for the 10th Season of Fireflies!

 We are counting down the days until our 10th season of events.  We are planning for 3 Glow & Know Campouts and 2 nights of the PA Firefly Festival.  The first event of the season starts on Tuesday, June 8 with the Glow & Know Campout at Scarlett Knob Campground in Fayette County, near Ohiopyle. Saturday, June 18 the G&K campout is at Camp Lutherlyn in Butler County.  Next, the 10th Annual PAFF will be held in Kellettville on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25.  The last event will be the G&K campout on Tuesday, June 28 in Kellettville.  Each event offers firefly programs with experts, guided interpretative firefly viewing, and fun for all.  Online pre-registration is required for all events.  Space is strictly limited to ensure a safe and intimate setting that protects the habitats of the fireflies.  

Registration will begin on May 1st at 9AM EDT.  Links for the registration will be posted on the website, pafireflyevents.org.  Subscribers to the quarterly newsletter will receive advance notification of the links.  So, be ready with your credit card when the box office opens.   Here are some tips and courtesies to keep in mind when registering:

  • Please register you and your party for only ONE event.  Booking multiple dates with the intent of attending only one prevents others from attending on the night of their choice
  • Complete your registration and check out as soon as possible.  Holding tickets in a cart does not complete your registration. It only blocks others from registration.  It can crash the site and you may lose your spot when you eventually check out.
  • You do not have to have a PayPal account to checkout.  PayPal is our credit card processor.  
  • Registration is non-refundable, but is transferrable.  If you are unable to attend your scheduled event, please feel free to send someone in your place.  We do not ask for IDs at check-in.
  • There are no tickets. You will get a wristband when you check in.  DO print a receipt.

We appreciate that the demand to see fireflies is immense.  There are estimated to be over 100,000 people trying to see fireflies this year in the US.  We are only one of a handful of sites in North America where people can go see the Synchronous fireflies.   That said, we are doing everything we can to maintain a responsible and sustainable eco-tourism opportunity.  We want to raise awareness of the significance of the firefly in the ecosystem of the forest while we protect the environment for future generations of fireflies.   We hope you will be one of the lucky patrons at one of our events this year or in the future.  

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.