An unusual beetle, the bioluminescent and beloved Glowworm has delighted generations and inspired song.
The larval form of the Glowworm Beetle is called a Glowworm. The larva is long and tubular like a worm, and it emits a yellow, orange, or green light from its body using bioluminescence, not heat. Some species can emit a red light from their head. They eat mostly other crawling things like millipedes, slugs, snails, and even other insects. A toxic cocktail is injected into their prey as they bite it. This causes the internal parts of the prey to dissolve whereupon the Glowworm eats it. They are found in soil, leaf litter, grasslands, and even in caves, where they light up the roof like stars.
Adults look similar to lightning bugs, or fireflies. They are orange and black with large bulging eyes on the sides of the head. Glowworm Beetles have long antennae with wispy, feathery lashes. Males, not females, have wings. They do not have a hard wing covering (elytra) like other types of beetles. Larvae and females, not males, can glow. She looks somewhat like her larval form and somewhat like an adult. Her beacon of light is how she attracts a mate since she is not as mobile as the male.
Collecting Glowworms for captivity actually reduces their ability to successfully reproduce and maintain a population in a specific area. Admiring Glowworms in their habitat and allowing them to finish the mating process allows for an annual summertime display. Glowworms were the subject a fun tune sung by the Mills Brothers in the early 1950's. Their harmony and lyrics are still easy on the ears. Look for Glowworm Beetles day or night, but enjoy the illumination of their worms after the sun has set. It doesn't hurt to hum their song, too.
Scientific Name: Phengodes spp.
Other Name(s): Glowworm Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 65mm (0.43in to 2.54in)
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.