Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_1121

Although this term is sometimes applied to any insect that produces light, it is more correctly applied to Arachnocampa spp. (Diptera: Keroplatidae). These insects live in New Zealand and Australia, often in caves or other dark shelters. The best known are A. luminosa of New Zealand, and A. richardsae, A. flava and A. tasmaniensis of Australia. The larvae have organs that produce blue-green light. The light is used to attract prey, which are then ensnared in vertical silk threads coated with sticky mucous material that the larvae dangle from the ceiling of the cave or shelter. They are most frequent along streams, and suffer if exposed to low humidity.

Elsewhere, other light-producing flies include Keroplates sesioides in Sweden, K. testaceus in Germany, K. nipponicus in Japan, and Orelia fultoniin the Appalachian Mountains of the USA. Several relatives of these insects produce long sticky threads for prey capture but are not luminescent. Fireflies or lightningbugs (Coleoptera:...

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  1. Baker CH, Merritt DJ (2003) Life cycle of an Australian glow-worm Arachnocampa flava Harrison (Diptera: Keroplatidae: Arachnocampinae). Aust Entomol 30:45–55Google Scholar
  2. Meyer-Rochow VB (2007) Glowworms: a review of Arachnocampa spp. and kin. Luminescence 22:251–265PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008