A Magical Night of Silent Lights – Walking Among the Lightning Bugs

Saturday Evenings, June, 2021

You are invited to take part in self-guided tours on selected Highlands Nature Sanctuary tracts known for spectacular firefly showcases during Saturday evenings from dusk until 11:00 PM throughout the month of June. Arc staff will be monitoring these sites for the best locations to view impressive firefly displays. First, make sure you are subscribed to the Arc’s educational programs email list (register here). And, follow us on Facebook. Weekly updates will help you pinpoint the prime locations with the highest concentration of lightning bugs. These silent summer sparks blanket the fields and the forest winks and glows like a Christmas tree. For example, Ridgeview Farm is the home of six different species of firefly, each with its own particular summer season, characteristic flash pattern, and life cycle, from the faint glow and small size of the Little Grays, to the hunch-back, large eyed, and showy Photuris complex. Remember to use red or blue filtered lights at night so that you cause the least interference with their summer mating ritual. Even though the event is free, and self-guided, registration is required and will open one month before the event.

Mothing at the Appalachian Forest Museum

Saturday, July 17, 2021

9:30 PM – Midnight

Join Arc of Appalachia staff members for an evening with the infinitely variable and exquisitely beautiful moths of the Rocky Fork Gorge in the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. We will gather in the parking lots at the Appalachian Forest Museum where there will be several mothing sheets set up with special lights to attract these delicate denizens of the dark. Mothing enthusiasts will be present at each station to help identify the incredible variety of moths and other insects that are brought to the lights, from the small and intricately detailed slug moths to the extravagant silk moths, the diversity is dizzying. This event is being offered free of charge, but there is a limited amount of space around the sheets so registration will be required. Registration will open one month before the event.

Imperial Moth Caterpillar, Photo by John HowardCaterpillar Roundup at the Appalachian Forest Museum

Saturday, September 11, 2021

9:30 PM – 11:30 PM

Guided by ultraviolet (UV) flashlights and accompanied by other insect enthusiasts join us at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Appalachian Forest Museum, where we will begin searching for the larval forms of the moths and butterflies of the Rocky Fork Gorge. We will break down into small groups and forage in the areas around the parking lot and nearby trails, safely bringing back specimens to share as a group. These caterpillars will be returned to their host vegetation where they can complete their life cycle, unharmed by our brief intervention. The kaleidoscope of colors, array of defensive adaptations, and camouflage of the caterpillars is mind boggling. The biggest challenge is seeing them in the first place!  You will find access to a good caterpillar field guide, such as Caterpillars of Eastern North America, by David L. Wagner, very helpful for your evening. This event is offered free of charge but registration is necessary for planning purposes and will open one month prior to the event. 

CORONAVIRUS ALERT. As the Arc continues to adapt to life in the age of Covid 19 we have adjusted our educational programming to the new world reality. We have decided to offer a limited selection of outdoor educational events, some self-guided, others with interpretive naturalists supplying their expertise to assist our nature enthusiasts. All will be organized to permit safe social distancing, proper hygiene, and masks when appropriate. All will be held outside, without classroom sessions. Perhaps the most significant change is these events will be offered with a minimal charge, or no charge at all. We encourage you to join us as we share our immersion in, and awe of the natural world. It is an interesting observation that even though the Coronovirus had a decidedly negative impact on human beings, the corresponding affect on the natural world was much more positive. Why don’t you join us and see what all the buzz is about?

Remember that most of our hiking trails are open to the public for you to explore at your own pace and in your own time. Click here for more information.