Glowworms or Larvae?

A reader recently asked us about some glowworms or larvae he found lying in and around his mulch beds. He said he has been finding these for three years, usually emerging around June. He included two photos, one so we could see what it looks like in daylight, and one in dark lighting. The daytime photo shows that it is a couple inches long and about an inch wide, and pretty round. It is a cream color on the bottom, with darker tan stripes on top. In the photo taken at night you can barely see the creature, but you can see some faint glowing spots near its underside, and some glowing bands across its back.

Based on the photo and the description, we are confident that our reader has found railroad worms. Railroad worms are the larval form of a beetle from the Phengodidae family. They are characterized by their bioluminescence (their glowing!) which serves to frighten and confuse predators.


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Railroad worms are quite common around the United States, and our reader shouldn’t worry about them living near his mulch beds!

Overall, our reader found some railroad worms in his mulch beds. These creatures are easy to identify because they glow!

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Glowworms or Larvae?
Article Name
Glowworms or Larvae?
Description
A reader recently asked us about some glowworms or larvae he found lying in and around his mulch beds. He said he has been finding these for three years, usually emerging around June. He included two photos, one so we could see what it looks like in daylight, and one in dark lighting. The daytime photo shows that it is a couple inches long and about an inch wide, and pretty round. It is a cream color on the bottom, with darker tan stripes on top. In the photo taken at night you can barely see the creature, but you can see some faint glowing spots near its underside, and some glowing bands across its back.
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Author: Worm Researcher Dori

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