Top 10 Insects that Glows in the Dark

Here’s the list of the Insects that glow at Night.

S.N Name Genus Bioluminescence Status
1. Bioluminescent Glowworms Arachnocampa luminosa Luciferase Yes
2. Bacteria (Photorhabdus luminescens) Photorhabdus luminescens Luciferase Unknown
3. Motyxia Millipedes Motyxia Luciferase No
4. Quantula Striatal Quantula Luciferase Complicated
5. Bioluminescence Fungus Mycena chlorophos Luciferase Toxins
6. Railroad Worm Phrixothrix Luciferase Complicated
7. Luminous Click Beetles Pyrophorus Luciferase Yes
8. Glowing Cockroach Lucihormetica lucka Luciferase Yes
9. Diplocardia longa Self Luciferase Yes
10. Fireflies Lampyridae Luciferase Yes

1. Bioluminescent Glowworms

Arachnocampa luminosa also knows as fungus gnats, is not just another bioluminescent worms but a most fascinating creature for the one with daring heart and great patience. Because it only found in the dark and damp areas of New Zealand. In a more justifiable way, it is only found in Waitomo Caves.

As I said, fungus gnats are for daring hearts I really mean my words, because of their locality, seasonality, surviving skills and cannibalistic adaptation. It’s a once a year experience, therefore, tourists lineup for to have such experience.

Here are some of the features to identify Bioluminescent Glowworms or Fungus gnats (Arachnocampa luminosa)

1. Found only in Waitomo Caves.

2. Is the size of a Matchstick.

3. Stays as a larval stage for 9 Months.

4. Eats only during larval Stage.

5. Even turns in to Cannibalism as food scares.

6. Loses its mouth at Adult Stage.

7. Traps their prey by forming a fishing lines like trap made up of silk and sticky Mucous.

8. It can extend up to 20 Inches.

9. At Night they glow radiant Blue Color.

10. Adult Female Illuminates to attract Male.

2. Bacteria (Photorhabdus luminescens)

It is the only bacteria inland with glowing bioluminescent property which belongs to the genus Photorhabdus luminescens. It is a lethal pathogen of insects due to its following properties.

Following are the properties and working mechanism of Photorhabdus luminescens:

1. It lives in the guts of the nematode.

2. As nematode infects Insects, Photorhabdus luminescens is released into the host.

3. Kills the host within 48 hours of Infection by producing toxins.

4. Photorhabdus luminescens releases enzymes that break the host body into particulate nutrients.

5. Moreover, Photorhabdus luminescens is bioluminescence. And it is still a mystery in the mist.

3. Motyxia Millipedes

Millipedes have around 35-400 legs and is a nocturnal creature belonging to the genus Motyxia. Motyxia is a genus that includes bioluminescence millipedes.

Bioluminescence Millipedes are very endemic to the Nevada, Tehachapi, and Santa Monica mountain ranges of California. It is harmless creatures whose toxic effect doesn’t produce serious harm to the human.

Millipedes from genus Motyxia also lives burrowed inside the moist and damp soil and being nocturnal creatures, burrows out at dusk for feeding on dead plants. They produce luminesce glow when being threatened by predators.

Luminescence so produced are very different in process and biochemical reaction, they release toxic cyanide from spores whenever being threatened. And its process differs widely from other bioluminescent creatures as instead of luciferase, photoprotein reacts with calcium-rich compounds.

4. Quantula Striata

It may appear very similar to any other snail but alongside it packs some of the concealed features which come into notice during dusk.

Here are some facts about the Quantula Striata.

This is the only terrestrial species that’s packed Illuminate and found in Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji as well and was first discovered in 1942, by Dr. Yata Haneda. The color of the shell is Brown and ranges up to 30 mm in width whereas lengthwise it is 6-7 cm.

In Quantula Striata light is illuminated by a specific organ known as “organ of Haneda” located in the head behind the mouth region.

Specific Habitat and features of Quantula Striata:

1. More likely to appear after rain.

2. Found in Damp and Dark places.

3. Initially feed on fruits and vegetables.

4. Feed on the dead and decaying organism as well.

5. Bioluminescence Fungus

It is not surprising that most of us have not yet seen the bioluminescence fungi or glowing mushroom due to its strict attachment to the specific habitat and that is in damp and moist places.

There are about hundreds of mushrooms species, of which more than 50 of them illuminates and glows at night. The purpose behind the glowing of mushrooms is still a mystery among the researcher and scientist. But many self-made thoughts rumble around to fill the rising curiosity within us that it a chemical process carried out by the bioluminescence fungi in order to repel predators or attracts food.

Mycena chlorophos is one of the bioluminescent fungi that glow at night and found in a wide range of countries including Japan, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.

Like every other fungus to change into a mushroom, Flashy Fungus too requires proper humidity, temperature and fruiting usually occurs only after the rain.

6. Railroad Worm

Belonging to the genus Phrixothrix, railroad worm or larvae is bioluminescence terrestrial creature found in South America.

The most fascinating thing about the Railroad Worm is its appearance, it appears similar to the caterpillar and one of the most contrasting characters of Railroad worm is its luminescence of two different colors based on the circumstances one of which is unpalatability.

Fact is only Larva or female adult of railroad worm can glow with a red light in the head area and green light glows sidewise in its bilaterally symmetrical body. Railroad worm is non-poisonous or in severe cases may cause mild irritation or allergy-like reaction which can be easily rid of by washing with soap and water.

Railroad worm is a typical looking bioluminescence organism whose true character comes under effect when lights are out and is being threatened by the nocturnal predators. Being only luminescent organism with two different contrastingly emissions of light, Railroad worm got its name from its rail with windows like body frame with glowing effect and more likely Railroad worm in terms of mechanism of luminescence differs from other luciferase-based reaction, structurally luciferases differs in Railroad worm while chemically performs the same function as every other bioluminescence creature. 

7. Luminous Click Beetles

Luminous Click Beetles belongs to the genus Pyrophorus, more than 30 different species of Pyrophorus is found on earth each with contradicting characteristic in terms of luminescence and makeup.

Pyrophorus group of bioluminescenceClick beetles are found in Florida, Cuba, Texas, and Puerto Rico.

Though their wide availability in the American continent glowing bioluminescence Click Beetle doesn’t impose any harm to the local population. Despite odd-looking structures of Click Beetles it doesn’t bite humans and therefore is not a threat to be afraid of, meanwhile, it can cause serious harm in the garden by the larvae of Click Beetles as their larvae are considered as pests.

Multiple contradicting tactics are used by the click beetles to scare off their predators while at the same time shows a startling effect to attracts their prey. That adaptation varies from glowing as far as to play dead.

Borer Beetles is a species of beetle when being disturbed or is exposed to external threats, pulls up their legs, and curls up their body, and acts dead.

Similar startling moves are carried out by the Pyrophorus Beetles (only bioluminescence Species of Beetles) which uses the luminescence way of defense mechanism to scare off the nuisance. It imparts the sign of toxicity to the nefarious species and scares them off. Therefore, Luminous Click Beetles are not toxic by any means instead it’s just a defense mechanism that is initiated by fear and also during mating season.

8. Glowing Cockroach

Glowing Cockroach belongs to the genus Lucihormetica lucka, and is strictly endemic to certain areas as per their availability and therefore are found only near the active volcanic erupted sites one of which is in Ecuador.

I still couldn’t forget how frightening it was in childhood after surprisingly being encountered by the cockroaches, I still get goosebumps thinking about it but that isn’t going to stop me from discovering the glowing cockroaches just let it be for only once in a life. But due to the species of glowing cockroaches already being endemic to the harsh and challenging environment which is beyond the reach and encountered by the human, it won’t be wrong to bring into the conclusion that glowing species of cockroaches Lucihormetica lucka is already extinct and now is beyond the reach of humanity.

Unlike any other bioluminescence species, Glowing Cockroaches aka Lucihormetica lucka features one small spot and two large spots that glow under the presence of light and it won’t be difficult to say they mimic the beetles as a mechanism of protection.

9. Diplocardia longa

Diplocardia longa is a species of earthworm possessing surprisingly unique characteristics of bioluminescence. Diplocardia longa, a special species of an earthworm is very native and concentrated to its locality in North America and it is the only place it found in large numbers.

The earthworm as we know is the most boring and creepy looking, a sluggish organism which no one would like to have one as a pet. But there’s goes more as we land into its anatomy and behavior.

Earthworm secrets mucous which smoothens the body surface helps them to easily burrow in and out of their cave-like home. Mucous secreted by the earthworm is also called coelomic fluid in a professional tone, but the mucus or coelomic fluid secreted by the Diplocardia longa varies contrastingly due its bioluminescence property and unlike any other bioluminescent organisms it can produce multiple spectrum of color varying from red all way to blue.

Such a spectacular chemical reaction takes place when Diplocardia longa encounters threats nearby from the nefarious organisms in order of defense.

10. Fireflies

One of the highly appreciated and well familiar bioluminescent species among the younger generation which has become a household name due to its easy adaptation over the wider habitat.

Fireflies can easily be found in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Florida, South Carolina. Fireflies being a nocturnal animal it hides in the dark or mainly in the tall grass as grasses have damp and moist like environments and therefore it becomes the best choice.

There are more than 2000 species of fireflies in the world and lives for less than a year during which it spends very least of their time as mating and flying and therefore it maintains seasonality in appearance.

Light is produced below their abdominal organ by the process of bioluminescence where luciferase in the presence of magnesium ions oxygen and ATP reacts with luciferin to give lights. Fireflies glow either to attracts their mates and prey or in opposite to scare predators.

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