What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Glow Worms!
I was walking through my front yard in the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California last night and wondered why there was a glowing LED on the ground. Upon closer inspection I found two glow worms. One blinked out right away upon being disturbed, but the other kept right on glowing. I’ve lived in California for 33 years and have never seen any bioluminescence. This was an exciting first. Just thought I would share my find. All the best,

Hi Sean,
Though your image is a bit blurry, it is wonderful to see the glow as well as the Glowworms.

Update:  September 14, 2013  (From our personal email account)
Hello Daniel:
Hope all is well these last few days of summer….
Here’s a puzzle:  A colleague of mine said his coworker observed a firefly for an hour last night in his Woodland Hills backyard. Is that possible? Fireflies? I think of them as more midwestern…what could this have been?
Any thought would be appreciated…
Brenda Rees
Southern California Wildlife

Hi Brenda,
Thursday and Friday are very long work days for me.  Sorry for the delay.
This one has a confusing answer, and you didn’t explain exactly what the person saw.
We have several species in the Firefly family Lampyridae, but they are not bioluminescent.  To further confuse things, one has the common name California Glowworm, but Glowworms are in a different family.
We have Glowworms in the family Phengodidae as well.  They glow as larvae, and females are larviform are are supposed to glow.  Winged males do not
Hope that helps.  Would be nice to know exactly what the person saw.  If on the ground and glowing, I’m thinking Western Glowworm.

Hi Again Brenda,
We have been trying to clean up our California Glowworm and Firefly postings thanks to your email, because there were some inconsistencies.  We found this posting in our archives and it seems like a good place to add your email query.  Though it is commonly called a Pink Glowworm (according to Hogue in the Insects of the Los Angeles Basin), members of the genus
Microphotus are actually Fireflies in the family Lampyridae.  Though blurry, this image from our archives shows a nicely glowing individual.  Here is what Hogue writes:  “… the female of the Pink Glowworm … communicates her location to the male … by emitting a continuous uniform luminescent glow.  The adult male has the usual firefly beetle form, but the female is ‘larviform’ (wingless and elongate like the larva …).  The males are not seen as often as the females because they give light only when disturbed, and the light is weak and not used in communication.  The female is fairly common in late spring to early summer in the foothill canyons (a colony was reported from Griffith Park near the Greek Theater, in 1989).  Found at night by its glow and in the daytime under stones lying on leaf mold in grassy areas, the adult Pink Glowworm is easily recognized by the pink color of the flattened segments;  the terminal segments are yellowish.  The segments of the larvae of both male and female are blackish with pink margins.”  See BugGuide for additional information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Santa Monica Mountains, California
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