Glow-Worms – a Sight to Behold


This evening, around 9 pm, Jim and I were walking back to the house after enjoying a campfire.  We looked down and saw lots of lightning bugs in the grass.  We did not think much of it except that upon second observation, we thought it odd that there were no lightning bugs in the air.  We continued walking and they were quite numerous — spaced about every 5 – 10 feet apart.  A thought came over me and I reached down and dug around in the grass and picked one up.  It was not a lightning bug at all, but a roach-like bug! Although it looked to me more like a larvae with legs — its body was segmented and it would curl up if you touched it.

This was a first for both of us!  We felt like kids experiencing the wonder of the world for the first time.

I immediately looked it up on the internet and found that it is in fact a Lampyridae Larvae (aka Glow Worm; Lightning Bug Larvae).  The website says:

“The firefly, or lightning bug beetle, is the popular name of the luminescent insects of the Lampyridae family. In Tennessee, Photinus pyralls is the most familiar species. Their extraordinary light is generated in special organs and it is most often white, yellow, orange, greenish blue or reddish.

Rather small, they are blackish, brown, yellow or reddish in color. In certain species the females remain in the larvae state and are called glowworms. Most fireflies produce short rhythmic flashes which provide a signaling system to bring the sexes together and also a protective mechanism to repel predators.”

The website says that they are excellent predators feeding on other bugs, sometimes worms, slugs and snails that they encounter.  These larvae live one year, from mating season to mating season, before becoming adults and giving birth to the next generation.  Adult lightning bugs, that we are more familiar with, only live long enough to mate and lay eggs.

According to, “both males and females flash, and the pattern of flashing is unique to the species. Most species are predatory. In some species, an adult female will actually flash the pattern of a different species (after already mating with a male of her own species) in order to attract males of the other. When they come to her…she eats them!” says that “So that a flasher doesn’t attract a firefly of a different species, each Lightning Bug species has its own special flash pattern. Flash patterns range from continuous glows or single flashes, to series of multi-pulsed flashes.”

Life is an Adventure!