05 August 2014

Fireflies-Glowworms Addendum

Two years before Elvis’s first record was released, The Mills Brothers had a hit with a smooth rendition of “The Glow-Worm,” which was originally from a 1902 operetta Lysistrata. Though I shouldn’t blame The Mills Brothers, I always assumed glowworms grew up to be fireflies. Preparing last Friday’s blog post, Fireflies, I learned that’s not necessarily true.

In the US, “glowworms” does indeed usually refer to firefly larvae; however, in Europe, the term denotes a species of beetle whose adult females have no wings and whose adult males fly but don’t glow. In Australasia, glowworms are flies not beetles; adults look like large mosquitoes. New Zealand has a species of glowworm found nowhere else. Its occurrence has contributed to making the Waitomo Glowworm Caves a major tourist attraction.

Firefly larvae. (www.entomology.wisc.edu/diaglab/08hilite/06-19.html)
Adult female glowworm. (www.entomology.wisc.edu/diaglab/08hilite/06-19.html)
Adult male glowworm. (www.entomology.wisc.edu/diaglab/08hilite/06-19.html)
A boat ride through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand, where a unique species of glowworms lights up the walls and ceiling. (www.newzealandtrademanual.com/waitomo-glowworm-caves/)


The Mills Brothers’ 1952 recording of The Glow-Worm:
Selected sources of information on glowworms:
Waitomo Glowworm Caves:

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