Wild Fact #806 – A Very Bright Insect – Glow Worm

Wild Fact #806 – A Very Bright Insect – Glow Worm

Happy Friday Everyone!  The weekend is here and I am ready for an exciting long weekend.  We are going to end the week with an insect. I know, ewww, but I promise it will be an “enlightening” fact. I remember having a toy when I was a kid called a Glow Worm.  This thing looked like a large worm with a hat and it would light up when you squeezed on it.  Today, we are going to look at the real life Glow Worm.  First we have to wait until night time since they are nocturnal and really what is the point of looking for a glowing animal during the day.

Now that it is dark out let’s look for some glowing insects.  I know they may look like worms but they are actually glowing insect larvae.  Glow worms are usually the larvae of certain beetles although there are some for flies as well.  They can be found living in woodlands and caves throughout the world, except for the Americas.  These hearty little Glow Worms can even survive above the Arctic circle which is pretty impressive.

So what is the point of having a rear-end that lights up? Well as usual, the light is used to attract a mate.  In other animals it is the male trying to attract their partner but not with the Glow Worm.  Nope, it is the female that will spend about two hours every night during mating season hoping to catch the eye of their male partner.  As you can imagine man-made structures such as street lights have caused some issues with this strategy.  I bet that male glow worm is confused when he goes to a street light hoping to find a potential mate.

The glow worm is usually about 1-2 inches in length and will survive for about 5 months.  During this time they tend to feed on snails and slugs but will also eat other insects.  As you can imagine a glowing bug has numerous predators including birds, spiders, larger insects, centipedes and reptiles. I guess being able to glow isn’t always a good thing.

Well that does it for me today!  Now let’s go and enjoy our long weekend.  Don’t forget to check back on Monday as Wild Facts doesn’t take holidays.


  1. Avatar
    Carmen Henesy May 24, 2010

    I had that toy glow worm as well! I’ve never seen the real kind. Guess it’s a bummer if the thing that you use to attract a mate is what make you dinner for a predator!

    • Avatar
      Nathan May 26, 2010

      Glad to hear someone else is familiar with the Glow Worm toy.

      I look at the light as more of a challenge. It is too easy just to use a shiny object to attract a mate but to attract a mate AND not get eaten… now that is something you can be proud of!

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    Meam May 25, 2010

    Very fascinating! Just imagining the many amusing scenarios if we humans had natural front/rear lights ………one thing I’m quite sure is that women must have adorned it with special jewelery!

    • Avatar
      Nathan May 26, 2010


      It would be great if we had lights. It would make finding our way at night so much easier!

      Thanks for “brightening” up my day with the witty thought, Meam!

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    priyanshu June 03, 2011

    hey thanks 4 givng this information about glow worm.i saw glow worm 2 day befor in my yard and was so astonished.i thought that i discovered a new species.

    • Avatar
      Nathan June 07, 2011

      That is awesome that you actually had the opportunity to see a Glow Worm up close and personal. The only one I have actually had the chance to see was the toy I had as a kid.

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    lenore December 11, 2011

    How large can there glow be, my husband was on a property and saw a light in a shed about 400 metres away. when he saw a light about 2 inches round and then he said it just faded out to nothing?

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 13, 2011

      Hi Lenore,

      I am not sure how far away you can see their glow. I would suspect on a dark night, with no obstructions, you would be able to see them quite a distance.

      You would need to have good eye sight to see them 400 m away.

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    Terry April 10, 2012

    Hi, strangely I found a glow worm in our garden this evening here in Windhoek (Namibia) This was the first time I have ever seen one in my 65 years and I immediately took it to show my grandchildren. I then went to the net to read up about it and came across your site. It appears to be a fasinating creature with a rather strange translation into Afrikaans, our second language here in Namibia : Glimwurm??Enjoyed you site and can remember many years ago the toy you are speaking about.

    • Avatar
      Nathan April 10, 2012

      Hi Terry,

      Thanks for sharing your story. What a great experience and I am sure your grandchildren enjoyed viewing this intriguing creature.

      So it translates into Glimwurm, eh? That is definitely a lot of fun to say.

      Thanks again for the compliments and telling us about your encounter with a beautiful Glow Worm.


  6. Avatar
    alan November 02, 2012

    thanks alot!:)
    i really needed some interesting stories about glow worms for my school project and here they are!!!!
    thanks again

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