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Synchronous firefly displays

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Agent Carmen Ketron, recently on our SCETV program Making It Grow, told us she’d seen the synchronous firefly display at the Congaree National Park. This phenomenon occurs at the end of May or early June for about two weeks every year. The males of Photuris frontalis flash their lights all together and in the same rhythm. The males are slightly separated but in the same vicinity flying two to four feet above the ground near the females who are stationary in vegetation. At some point, a female selects a male and flashes back at him signaling that she has chosen him as a mate. I guess you could call this flirting, but the official term is a photic dialogue. Human females prefer being courted with perfume and chocolates; this species of firefly gals goes for something a bit flashier.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.