Crazy mystery scorpion/worm thing?
May 27, 2010
I vacuumed this out of the bottom of our pool in the piedmont of North Carolina. Its got a hard jointed shell, 6 legs, and what looks like a pincher or feeler on the end of its tail. Curled when found dead but would probably measure 3.5″ long when flat. What is this!?
Sarah in NC
Iredell County, North Carolina


Hi Sarah,
If it was alive, and if you observed it at night, you would find that this Glowworm was bioluminescent.

Its a real live glow worm??

Sorry my first email was so pointed but I grew up with the stuffed play glow worms and never thought they were real. We’re lovers of nature and life of all kinds but we’d never seen anything like this!

Hi Again Sarah,
We are not trying to yank your chain.  This is a Glowworm in the genus Phengodes.  You may verify this on BugGuide.  It is a larva.  Unlike Fireflies which glow as adults, with the Glowworms, it is the larvae and the larviform females that are bioluminescent and emit light.  According to BugGuide:  “Phengodid adult females and larvae feed on millipedes
” and this poor Glowworm must have fallen into the pool during its nocturnal hunting. Glowworms are also known as Railroad Worms, and we once received an awesome photo of a glowing Glowworm.

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