/gloh"werrm'/, n.
1. the wingless female or larva of the European beetle, Lampyris noctiluca, which emits a sustained greenish light.
2. any of various other beetle larvae or wingless females that emit a glow rather than a flash of light.
[1300-50; ME. See GLOW, WORM]

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Any crawling, luminous insect that emits light either continuously or in prolonged glows rather than in the brief flashes characteristic of most fireflies.

Glowworms include larvae and adult (often wingless) females of fireflies and certain other beetle species and larvae of certain gnat species. They are widely distributed. The great diversity in the size, number, location, and structure of the bioluminescent organs suggests that the light-producing ability of the various species evolved independently.

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      any crawling, luminous (bioluminescence) insect that emits light either continuously or in prolonged glows rather than in brief flashes as do most fireflies. Principal types of glowworms are: (1) wingless adult females of certain beetles of the family Lampyridae, particularly the common European glowworm, Lampyris noctiluca, (2) larvae of lampyrid fireflies (common in the Americas) and of elaterid fireflies (tropical), (3) larvae and adult females of certain beetles of the genera Phengodes (North America) and Phrixothrix (South America), and (4) larvae of certain gnats (e.g., the cave-dwelling Arachnocampa of New Zealand and Platyura of the central Appalachians).

      Glowworm bioluminescent organs vary widely in size, number, location, and structure, suggesting independent evolutionary origins of light-producing ability. In Phengodes the light is emitted by solitary giant cells; in Arachnocampa, by modified excretory organs; in Platyura, by modified salivary glands; and in Phrixothrix, Lampyris, and lampyrid larvae, by organs similar to, but simpler than, the “lanterns” of flashing types of fireflies. The light is usually greenish, but the “railroad worm” (Phrixothrix) has a red headlight in addition. In Lampyris, Phengodes, and Phrixothrix the flying male, which may itself be nonluminous, is attracted to the female's light. In Platyura and Arachnocampa, the larvae produce light to attract prey that they then capture in their sticky webs.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • glowworm — noun Etymology: Middle English Date: 14th century any of various luminous insect larvae or adults with wings rudimentary or lacking; especially a larva or wingless female of a firefly (family Lampyridae) that emits light from the abdomen …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • glowworm — noun The larva or wingless grub like female of a beetle from the families Phengodidae or Lampyridae that gives out a green light from its abdomen. The Glow worm shews the Matin to be near, And gins to pale his uneffectual fire. [ …   Wiktionary

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