Glowworms (also called Railroad worms) are a unique species of beetle that are seldom seen because they hide in self-made burrows in the ground under leaf litter and debris during the day. Female glowworms can be seen on the surface of the ground after a good summer rain. Females are seen more often than the males, so keep a sharp eye out for them. Interestingly enough, females appear to stay in larviform for their entire life. Larviform is when the adult insect stays in the same form as the larva. Much like a caterpillar growing into an adult without pupating and becoming a butterfly.
Adult male glowworms look similar to other beetle species with the exception of their forewings (elytra). The elytra are reduced in size exposing the hindwings. Many other beetle species have large, hardened elytra, which allow the hindwings to fold and hide beneath them. Adult male glowworms have comb like antennae and large mandibles. The antennae are used to detect pheromones emitted by the female, which makes it easier to find them during mating time, especially in the dark! Very much like moths and many other insects, adult male glowworms will fly towards lights at night and are occasionally seen resting on walls near the light.
Larviform females and male larvae appear to feed exclusively on millipedes. The adult males are short lived and probably die soon after mating. There’s no evidence if males even feed as adults. They don’t eat and die soon after mating. That’s just not right! It’s tough being a male glowworm!
Did you know female glowworms and some species of male glowworms are bioluminescent (meaning they can glow in the dark), much like a firefly! That should light you up!
Now, go out and try to find one so you can watch it glow in the dark!