Tall Pines State Preserve in Mantua will have conservationists and the general public coming together to seek out fireflies and learn about how to keep their habitats alive.
On June 29, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., those seeking to learn more about fireflies, or as some call them, lightning bugs, at the county’s second annual Firefly Festival. Admission is free and in the event of rain, the event will be moved to June 30. The festival will have stations teaching people about the different species of fireflies and how to protect their habitats. No dogs are allowed and it is recommended to bring a flashlight.
Registration is recommended to give the county’s nature club a headcount and can be done by emailing FireflyFest@GCNautreClub.org with your name, number of people in your group and number of children. It is strongly recommended to carpool as parking is limited and the preserve can only be entered via the Barkbridge Road side.
“It’s an event that included a three-quarter mile, self-guided trail to educate people about fireflies and to see them and enjoy them,” said Kris Mollenhauer, educational outreach coordinator at the Gloucester County Nature Club. “Fireflies are just so magical this time of year and we’re fortunate to have that property preserved.”
The trail is estimated to take an hour to walk through.
Mollenhauer said the nature club was inspired to bring the festival to Gloucester County after seeing how well a town near Princeton held its festival. She added they didn’t want people to have to drive 90 minutes away from home, especially late at night with kids.
Last year at the inaugural festival, Mollenhauer said they had around 175 people come out, and the club hopes to repeat the success again.
“I like fireflies and bugs,” Mollenhauer said. “I think for a lot of people in my generation, it’s a part of our childhood and summer.”
She added scientists and educators will be out that night to speak about the different species in Gloucester County and within the preserve, and give attendees tips on how to help conserve the habitat the bugs are in.
“It’s special because they’re not found everywhere and especially in this part,” Mollenhauer said. “People can start recognizing that their habitats are getting torn down, and Tall Pines is perfect because it’s undisturbed, and it helps us talk about conservation portion.”
The fireflies, she added, go through a lifecycle much like butterflies before becoming what people commonly see at night, and there will be different ones that show up at dusk and when it’s pitch black outside.
The festival, she added, is being done with the help of the nature club, Friends of Tall Pines (volunteer organization that helps manage the upkeep of the preserve), and the environmental commissions of Mantua, Washington, Deptford, Wenonah and Pitman.
“It’s a chance to come out at night,” Mollenhauer added. “The kids will have fun with the activities there and enjoy the magic of the fireflies.”
To learn more about the Gloucester County Firefly Festival, visit www.GCNatureClub.org.