Have You Seen the ‘Railroad Glowworm’ in Iowa?
We’ve all seen fireflies on hot summer nights in Iowa, but have you ever come across a GLOWWORM?
I was lucky enough to find this one in Cedar Falls, May 30, 2020:
They’re not nearly as easy to spot as a firefly fluttering near your face --- and I've only seen them twice in my life. These millipede munchers are found in soil, leaf litter, grasslands, and even in caves. These beetles, a member of the Phengodidae Family, have around 230 species on the planet. This specific glowworm is commonly known as a ‘Railroad Worm’ because its glowing spots along the body look like the windows of train cars. They just don’t glow greenish-yellow either, the pair of luminescent organs on their head can glow red.
James Patrick - Townsquare Media
Both the males and females appear to be the most active at night. Even though females appear to hide in their burrows during the day, females can often be detected on the surface of the ground by their glowing, immediately following a summer rain. Eggs may not glow immediately but may glow a bit before hatching!
In their adult stage, Males, not females, have wings. Larvae and females, not males, are the ones that can glow.
Where can you find them? They’ve been spotted from the southern edge of Canada ranging all the way to Chile. Most species live south of the Rio Grande. In Iowa, you can find them glowing in May and June and sometimes even later into the summer season.
But they're not as cute in their adult form:
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