| Lampyris noctiluca (Linnaeus, 1767)|
Main synonym = Cantharis noctiluca Linnaeus, 1767
| Taxonomical Classification: Animalia / Arthropoda / Insecta / Coleoptera / Lampyridae |
| Glow-worm, Common glow-worm Musbieħ il-lejl|
| Further Information: |
Most of this species life cycle is is the larval stage, and it is hence this form that it is more popular with us. In fact, the life cycle of the larva is about 3 years, feeding only on snails and slugs. It can feed on dead prey, but has also the ability to inject a toxic and digestive substance into the snail and digest it after it dies.
The female adult is very similar to the larval form. It is unable to feed efficientely, and remains alive for 10 days, consuming mostly the food of the larval stage. The flightless female spends this short time to find a male, which on the other hand can fly. The female attracts males by its flourescent and well visible glow at its last 3 segments of the body. This glow usually endures for 2 hours and then the female retracts back to its hiding place. Larvae are sometimes seen to glow, although they seem able to turn off their light more easily than the female, especially when disturbed.
The insect can regulate its light production by controlling the oxygen supply to the light emitting membranes containing luciferin. The chemical reaction producing the light from luciferin is catalysed by luciferase, the exact chemical structure of which is determined by the glow worms individual genetic structure, which in turn determines subtle differences in the light produced from individual to individual. Virtually all of the energy produced is light; only 2% is heat.
After mating, the female\'s glowing stops and shortly it lays about 100-150 yellow eggs and dies few days later. The eggs hatch into small larva after 2 weeks or so. The larva hibernate in Summer and beginning of Autumn, when food (= snails) is hard to find. They hibernate in damp, shaded, places such as in cracks between stones or under large stones.
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