Firefly Larva - Family Lampyridae
*Disclaimer: I moved this larva from under a log and placed it on this leaf to take a photo. I put it back in its original location afterwards. It slept through the whole thing...
These beetle larvae look like prehistoric armored insects. They have flattened dorsal segments that extend to the back and sides, like overlapping plates. Their pink and white ventral surface is more fleshy and contains a glow organ with photocytes (light cells) at the end of their abdomens, which create bioluminescent light. So, how does a beetle larva's bum become a light beacon? Here's how - the light cells need several ingredients in order to make light. They need luciferin, ATP, and luciferase. Luciferase is an enzyme that causes the luciferin to produce light, and ATP provides the energy to drive the chemical reaction. Interestingly, these ingredients are always present in the glow organ, but it doesn't always glow because oxygen is required for the chemical reaction to occur. No oxygen = no reaction. No reaction = no light. The firefly larvae control the oxygen supply, so when they need to glow again, they simply feed oxygen to their glow organ, and voilá—it creates light.
Habitat: Under a log in a wooded backyard
No species identified
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