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glowing caterpiller ID

Discussion in 'Invertebrates General' started by Mark, May 9, 2007.

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  1. Mark

    Mark Elite Member

    Been a while since I was here last...

    Anyway I was walking out of my back door tonight after locking up and a faint light on the ground caught my eye. Using my phone as a flash light I found it was a caterpillar which had / has glowing spots along its length. That is about the extent of the characteristics I have of it. As I was saying I was using a phone as a light source so colour was messed up. It looked like a smooth body but again low light so who really knows. When coiled it was a little smaller in diameter than a US quarter.

    Any idea what type of insect this could be?

    I live in northern central Illinois about 20 miles south of the WI state line. At this point most trees are leafed out but the Jane Magnolias have not bloomed. Most hosta are about half grown in. Dandelions bloomed almost 2 weeks ago. Have not had rain for about a week now.
     
  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Nice to see you Mark! Have a look here and let me know if any of these critters foot the bill:

    Illinois caterpillars
     
  3. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

    Mark, you know the rules, pictures pictures pictures!

    ...where's Matt?

    P.s. Rich, that link was cool..lots of pretty pictures!
     
  4. venus

    venus Founding Member

    Welcome back Mark, good to see you.

    The pics are awesome,,so cool. I want one :)
     
  5. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It sounds like a larval firefly.
    They are called glow worms.
     
  6. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    The nocturnal and terrestrial characteristics, the smoothness, and the curling behavior suggest it was a grub rather than a caterpillar (though I'm still open to the caterpillar idea). As Merlin said, it could be a firefly larva, which are beetles. Firefly larva are not grubs though, and the glow comes only from the posterior of the animal. Some species do possess light spots along their sides that might appear to glow under a phone. Do you know for sure that the spots were glowing?
     
  7. Mark

    Mark Elite Member

    There were three spots in a ring around the body and these rings ran the length of the body. They were bio-luminescent. The independent glow from these spots in a pile of leaf matter caught my eye as I was walking down the steps -- no lights in clear line of sight though street lights were on on the other side of the house, no moon at the time, clear sky.

    Don't know how much I am back. Things are in a crunch at the office, I am renovating my house, and about to get a dog. I should start a blog on my house reno, I am photo documenting it when I decide to feed my camera batteries.

    Can anyone suggest a camera to replace the battery eater I have now? I would like to stay under about 150 and keep the SD memory type. Dell has ads for a Fuji 7.2 M-pix with 3x optical zoom at $99
     
  8. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    Ok, cool, just making sure. Well that doesn't sound like a firefly larva to me then. It could very well be a caterpillar. I'll have to look more into it though, I've never heard of a bioluminescent caterpillar before, but it wouldn't surprise me.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Elite Member

    Found the bugger again but did so in civil twilight but don't have a camera to shoot it with.

    Coils tightly about the size of a penny just over a full circle.

    Pale green body with light brown (?) bands. Between the tan bands are these glowing spots. Nearly round on the sides and elongated laterally along the top.

    Glows brightly too, enough to cast green on the pavement around it.

    What ever it is I have to say it is the coolest larva I have seen yet.
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Elite Member

    Hmm, I wonder. I have been buying a bunch of plants and perhaps they were trucked in from the south. From my searching it looks like a phengodes.

    Perhaps it came in on my azaleas, ginkgo tree, or jane magnolia trees. Then again why grow any of these great northern plants too far south as they need the winter dormancy.

    glow-worms, railroad-worms
     
  11. Mark

    Mark Elite Member

    Hmm, I wonder. I have been buying a bunch of plants and perhaps they were trucked in from the south. From my searching it looks like a phengodes.

    Perhaps it came in on my azaleas, ginkgo tree, or jane magnolia trees. Then again why grow any of these great northern plants too far south as they need the winter dormancy.

    glow-worms, railroad-worms
     
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