What do a light bulb and a glow-worm have in common? Both glow! Glow-worms emit a ‘cold’ greenish-blue light. It will surprise you to know that a glow-worm is not a worm. It is an insect!
In U.K., ‘glow-worm’ is the name of a beetle, Lampyris Noctiluca. The female is wingless and looks like a ‘worm’. The beetle glows from the bottom segments. This happens as lucerifin (a waste product) reacts with atmospheric oxygen with the help of an enzyme, luciferace. Lucerifin is oxidized to form oxylucerifin. The male beetle and the larvae also ‘glow’, but not as brightly as the female. The beetle larvae love to have a hearty meal of healthy slugs and snails!
In Australia and New Zealand, the ‘glow-worm’ is the larva of a large mosquito-like fly. It glows at its tail tip when the waste product ‘lucerifin’ comes into contact with oxygen. Long silky threads dangle vertically from mucous tubes in which the larvae live. These threads are dotted with sticky mucous drops. The larvae ‘glow’ enticingly. Woe betide any insect that touches the web!
Plants, fungi, animals and insects that emit light are said to be bioluminescent. So next time you need light just put a handful of glow-worms into a jar. This is NOT a joke. Need proof? Soldiers in trenches during World War I read maps with the help of glow-worm ‘lights’!