Eurasian Glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca

Scientific Name: Lampyris noctiluca (Lampyridae).

English Name: Eurasian Glow-worm (Firefly family).

French Name: Le Lampyre (='shiner'); le ver luisant (='glowing worm').

Larva, on roadside bank, Sainte Maure de Touraine.

5 Key Characters:
  • males look like beetles (which they are) and can fly.
  • females, with their many segmented bodies, look like larvae and are wingless.
  • females emit bioluminescence in the form of glowing green under the tip of the abdomen to attract a male at night.
  • 1.5 - 3 cm long.
  • brownish.

Lookalikes: Lesser Glow-worm Phausis splendidula, which has 3 spots of light. Larvae could be mistaken for a large Ladybird Coccinellidae larvae.

Habitat: Grass, from lawns to roadside verges. Often encountered in large not too pristine gardens, where the larvae eat snails and the females will glow on the grass at night.

Adult Active Period: June-July.

Status: Common but declining. Despite the vernacular names they are beetles, not worms.

References and Further Reading: 
Jean-Henri Fabre's chapter on the glow-worm can be read in English here.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

1 comment:

  1. The females here often use white objects to "glow upon"...
    thus increasing their glow.
    I have seen them using the same lump of calcaire each night for a week...
    and last year found them up the pale wall of the longère.
    and we often get them here in early August...

    Conversely, we inadvertently provided some competition for males...
    our original longère lounge windows had three sections...
    and we bought some nice thin, silk-like, LIME-GREEN curtains to give us a bit of privacy...
    they are no longer in use in June/July/August as the local male glow-worms, out looking for a good night...
    seem to be mightily attracted to the very large female that appeared each evening!!
    As in "Corrrrrr! Look at the glow on that female!!"
    [Apologies to Page Three of the Sun]
    Maximum count was twenty males...