Bioluminescent Insects: The Railroad Worm

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Bioluminescent insects (that is, insects that glow in the dark) are rather interesting to most people. They are insects that capture the imagination and inspire awe such as the common firefly that entertains adults and children alike throughout the warmer months of the year.

Many bioluminescent insects rely on their vision to get around in the world. Being able to produce their own light and carry it around with them makes it easier for them to survive in the world. Bioluminescent insects create light through a reaction of two chemicals in their biological make-up: luciferin and luciferase. When these two chemicals come in contact with one another they react and produce light.

Among the many insects that can create their own light is the railroad worm. Railroad worm is a common term used to reference several different insects including beetles of the Phrixothrix genus. Railroad worms are rather fascinating as they are known for their unique ability to create two different color lights: green and red.

Railroad worms generally glow green throughout their bodies while their heads may produce a redish glow. Interestingly enough, it is not entirely known why this phenomenon occurs although it is believed that the two colors are possibly produced by two different forms of the chemical luciferase in their bodies.

As a member of the beetle family, railroad worms have the distinction of belonging to the largest number of known species of insects. Most scientists agree that beetles make up nearly 25% of all living creatures on the planet. They are common, found everywhere and provide many valuable contributions to the food chain throughout the world.

Over 300,000 thousand species of beetles have been discovered throughout the world. However, new beetles are discovered on a regular basis. There is no telling how many different beetles exist in the world as there are surely many that live in habitats unexplored or unreachable by man.

There are many popular beetles known to many such as the glow worm or fireflies. Glow worms are a common name for insect larvae and adult larviform females. The name came from the light these insects produce while in the larvae stage of life when they are often confused for worms instead of the insects they are. Fireflies, also known as lightening bugs and June bugs, are also misnamed. Fireflies are not flies at all; they are beetles as well.


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Author: The Top Worm

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