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Best time to travel to South Carolina

Congaree Fireflies

Magic is in the air when thousands of synchronous fireflies light up the dark forest

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Fireflies have been observed in the swamp forests of South Carolina for many years. The local phenomenon has become quite famous as more and more people got attracted to Congaree National Park by the synchronous fireflies. There are just three species of synchronous flashing fireflies in North America, and Congaree is one spot where you can witness their rare natural display for just a couple of weeks between mid-May and mid-June. The good news is that Congaree National Park is within a 2-hour drive from Charleston, so it could be an excellent getaway idea.

Nature enthusiasts flock to the park at this time to observe the amazing firefly mating ritual. Photinus carolinus males send synchronized flashes of yellow-green light to females every few seconds. Fireflies are especially numerous near creeks and rivers, and the ancient Congaree forest is a perfect habitat for them. The vast area of the park that covers over 20,000 acres (80 sq km) is traversed by the Congaree River with several floodplains.

The park receives over 10,000 people during its annual Firefly Festival. The visitors arrive from as far as Europe and Asia. During the festival, the Congaree National Park is open for extended hours, till 9 pm. People are encouraged to stay on the special Fireflies Trail so that they don't get lost and wander randomly through the park disturbing fireflies and other wildlife, such as bobcats, feral pigs, coyotes, armadillos, and deer.

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Last updated: by Olha Savych