Glow in the Dark Michigan: the Railroad Worm

Railroad Worm by Jeff Baurs

Railroad Worm by Jeff Baurs

You may remember Jeff from the bioluminescent oyster mushrooms I shared last October. In any case, he’s back with another glowing critter he photographed last week, a railroad worm! The University of Florida Entomology & Nematology Department shares some information about these glow worms:

The family Phengodidae are uncommonly encountered beetles that have bioluminescent females that appear to be larvaiform (or larger versions of the immature stage.) These adult females are able to produce light from paired photic organs located on each body segment (one glowing spot on each side) and sometimes also from luminous bands that extend across the dorsal surface of the body between each body segment. Because these glowing spots along the females body resemble the windows of train cars internally illuminated in the night, they are often referred to as “railroad-worms.”

…Even though females appear to hide in their burrows during the day, they can often be detected on the surface of the ground by their glowing, immediately following a summer rain. Even though the females are bioluminescent, the females light emission does not appear to be the cue that the males use to locate their mates.

Be sure to follow Jeff on Facebook or Instagram for more including this shot of a railroad worm AND glowing oyster mushrooms!

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