Arts & Culture

Watching Lightning Bugs at Congaree National Park

A beautiful display of nature in Hopkins, South Carolina

Photo: Leigh Webber

Blink…blink…blink… For about two weeks between mid-May and early June, thousands of fireflies—lightning bugs, to many of us—synchronize their bioluminescent behinds after sunset in South Carolina’s Congaree National Park, one of the few places in North America where the phenomenon occurs. Like an orchestra hitting the same staccato note all at once, the males of what Congaree officials believe to be the species Photuris frontalis flash quickly in unison among the old-growth bald cypresses and water tupelos, to woo mates. The Charleston photographer Leigh Webber captured this glowing display last May using a long exposure. “We got there early to stake out a spot,” Webber says of this viewpoint of the park’s elevated boardwalk. “It’s tricky because you don’t know exactly where it’s going to happen.” But when the blinking began, “you could hear as people started to get excited, and heads began swiveling around to find it.”