Subject: Can you tell me about this insect?
Location: La Crescenta, California
July 29, 2012 6:58 pm
My daughter found this insect floating in the toilet bowl after a large BM. She was understandably agitated about this, thinking she had passed this out of her body, although this struck her mom and I as highly unlikely. Upon removing it, I found no signs of any fecal matter sticking to it, again suggesting the unlikely possibility of it coming out of her. SAdly, all our internet attempts to idenify this bug accurately have failed. Can you please help? Thanks so much!
Signature: Evan (Ed. Note: surname withheld for discretionary reasons)
Your photos are so blurry a positive identification on our part is highly unlikely, however, we believe based on the coloration and general shape that this might be the larva of a Pink Glowworm, Microphotus angustus, which you can see in better detail on BugGuide. We hope we are correct and that you can show the online images to your daughter to alleviate her agitation. Though it is called a Pink Glowworm, this species is actually a Firefly in the family Lampyridae. The real mystery is how it ended up in the toilet.
A million thanks for getting back to me! Yes, I’m sorry for the blurriness of the photos, I was shooting with an iphone through a plastic bag! The insect has roughly 12 segments, each with bilateral legs, and each segment is pinkish with small white dots, and a visible thin whitish line separating each segment. There is a blue/purple line running along the entire length, visible in these new photos I’m sending you. Its underbelly is completely beige, and there is sparse hair growing especially at the ends. The tail is small and split. My wife tells me that as we live in Los Angeles, CA, we don’t have fireflies here. Could this still be a pink glowworm larva then? Please advise and thanks again for your time, assistance and empathy!
Thanks for sending a new photo. Though the focus is better than the original image, it is still too blurry for a conclusive identification. This no longer appears to be a Pink Glowworm to us. Glowworms are flatter in shape and this appears more rounded and the head is wrong for a Glowworm. It now appears to be some type of Caterpillar, but we cannot determine which caterpillar. There are Fireflies in Los Angeles, including the Pink Glowworm, Microphotus angustus. This BugGuide image is from San Diego. The larvae and the larviform females in the genus are found in several states in the Southwest, according to BugGuide which has this distribution map. We believe Glowworms are most commonly found in the foothills and your La Crescenta location supported that wrong guess.
You guys are truly da bomb! Thanks so much for your generous and helpful assist with this mystery! Luckily, the caterpillar (both my wife’s initial guess and mine!) has survived its detainment, and has been released back into the wild no worse for wear (and hopefully, with a bit more caution when dealing with small bodies of water!) Thanks again for providing such quick and valuable service; we’ll be sending our contribution to keep you all afloat for future mystery solving.