Help ID Worm (?)

Doug Stemke dstemke at umabnet.ab.umd.edu
Mon Jul 8 12:08:45 EST 1996

On 2 Jul 1996, David Yi wrote:

> Dear Microbiologists:
> 	Recently on a hiking trip I came across a strange creature.
> Because I was walking during the night, under the full moon, a single
> point of highly luminescent green caught my eye. Upon closer inspection,
> it looked like a segmented seed or a light orange colored larva of some
> kind, but it had two bright strips of glowing green one one end.
> 	Has anyone seen anything like this before? Why, from the point of
> evolution, would a larva be luminescent? Wouldn't it be dangerous? Are
> things like this common? Have I in fact found something new?
> Sincerely,
> TM

I'm not an entomologist, but it sounds like you found a glow worm.  I've 
seen them in Texas and they are quite common.  My understanding is they 
use the light to attract a mate.  Is it dangerous?  I would say there are 
generally fewer preditors at night (I'm way out on a limb on this one). 
There are many reasons for an organism to be luminescent.  Some. like 
lightening bugs to attact a mate.  In the deep sea they can be used as a 
form of communication between fish of the same species.  They can be used 
as an escape, a flash of light by the ink of deep sea octopus ink help it 
escape preditors.

Hope this helps.

Douglas Stemke

Biological Process Technology Institute
University of Minnesota. 

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