The beetle family Phengodidae is known also as glowworm beetles, whose larvae are known as glowworms. The females and larvae have bioluminescent organs. They occur throughout the New World from extreme southern Canada to Chile. The family Rhagophthalmidae, an Old World group, used to be included in the Phengodidae.
Larval and larviform female glowworms are predators, feeding on millipedes and other arthropods occurring in soil and litter. The winged males, which are often attracted to lights at night, are short-lived and probably do not feed. Females are much larger than the males and are completely larviform. Males may be luminescent, but females and larvae have a series of luminescent organs on trunk segments which emit yellow or green light, and sometimes an additional head organ which emits red light, as in railroad worms.
This family is distinct from the fireflies (family Lampyridae), which may also be called "glow-worms" in its larval stage. It also apparently includes the long-lipped beetles, which are only differentiated from phengodids by the unusual modifications of their mouthparts – it appears that Phengodidae is paraphyletic if the long-lipped beetles were treated as a family Telegeusidae.
|A male Phengodes|
Several, see text
Telegeusidae Leng, 1920
Cenophengus is a genus of glowworm beetles in the family Phengodidae. There are at least 17 described species in Cenophengus.Cenophengus debilis
Cenophengus debilis is a species in the family Phengodidae ("glowworm beetles"), in the order Coleoptera ("beetles").
It is found in North America.Cenophengus pallidus
Cenophengus pallidus is a species of glowworm beetle in the family Phengodidae. It is found in North America.Distremocephalus
Distremocephalus is a genus of glowworm beetles in the family Phengodidae. There are about 11 described species in Distremocephalus.Distremocephalus texanus
Distremocephalus texanus, the little Texas glowworm, is a species of glowworm beetle in the family Phengodidae. It is found in Central America and North America.Elateroidea
The Elateroidea are a large superfamily of beetles. It contains the familiar click beetles, fireflies, and soldier beetles and their relatives.
Certain clusters of families within the superfamily are more strongly related to one another; for example, the Elateridae have close ties to the Cerophytidae, Eucnemidae, and Throscidae, and some of these beetles can also "click".
Likewise, the Lampyridae are very closely related to the Phengodidae (which includes Telegeusidae), and the doubtfully distinct Rhagophthalmidae; members of these families are also bioluminescent, at least as larvae. This group of families also includes many taxa whose females are larviform, though this is also known from a few other families in the superfamily.
The validity and relationships of some families, such as Podabrocephalidae, Rhagophthalmidae, and Rhinorhipidae, are not fully resolved.Firefly
The Lampyridae are a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera with over 2,000 described species. They are soft-bodied beetles that are commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous use of bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale red, with wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers. Some species such as the dimly glowing "blue ghost" of the Eastern US are commonly thought to emit blue light (<490 nanometers), though this is a false perception of their truly green emission light due to the Purkinje effect.Fireflies are found in temperate and tropical climates. Many are found in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where their larvae have abundant sources of food. Some species are called "glowworms" in Eurasia and elsewhere. While all known fireflies glow, only some adults produce light and the location of the light organ varies among species and between sexes of the same species. The form of the insect which emits light varies from species to species (for example, in the glow worm found in the UK, Lampyris noctiluca, it is the female that is most easily noticed.). In the Americas, "glow worm" also refers to the closely related family Phengodidae. In New Zealand and Australia the term "glow worm" is in use for the luminescent larvae of the fungus gnat Arachnocampa. In many species of fireflies, both male and female fireflies have the ability to fly, but in some species, the females are flightless.Glowworm
Glowworm or glow-worm is the common name for various groups of insect larvae and adult larviform females that glow through bioluminescence. They include members of the families Elateridae, Lampyridae, Phengodidae, and Rhagophthalmidae among beetles; as well as members of the genera Arachnocampa, Keroplatus, and Orfelia among keroplatid fungus gnats.Mastinocerini
Mastinocerini is a tribe of beetles in the family Phengodidae. There are at least 190 described species in Mastinocerini.Omalisidae
Omalisidae are a very small family of beetles within the superfamily Elateroidea. Members of this beetle family have bioluminescent organs on the larvae. The most recent evidence indicates they are the sister group to a clade comprising the families Rhagophthalmidae and Phengodidae (glowworm beetles).Paraptorthodius
Paraptorthodius is a genus of glowworm beetles in the family Phengodidae. There are at least three described species in Paraptorthodius.Phengodes
Phengodes is a genus of glowworms in the family of beetles known as Phengodidae. There are at least 30 described species in Phengodes.Phengodes laticollis
Phengodes laticollis is a species of glowworm beetle in the family Phengodidae. It is found in North America.Railroad worm
A railroad worm is a larva or larviform female adult of a beetle of the genus Phrixothrix in the family Phengodidae, characterized by the possession of two different colors of bioluminescence. It has the appearance of a caterpillar. The eleven pairs of luminescent organs on their second thoracic segment through their ninth abdominal segment can glow yellowish-green, while the pair on their head can glow red; this is probably due to different luciferases in their bodies, as the reaction substrate, called luciferin, is the same.The "railroad worm" name arises because these glowing spots along the body resemble the windows of train cars internally illuminated in the night. The light emissions are believed to be a warning signal to nocturnal predators of their unpalatability.The term "railroad worm" is also sometimes applied to the apple maggot.Rhagophthalmidae
The Rhagophthalmidae are a family of beetles within the superfamily Elateroidea. Members of this beetle family have bioluminescent organs on the larvae, and sometimes adults, and are closely related to the Phengodidae (glowworm beetles), though historically they have been often treated as a subfamily of Lampyridae, or as related to that family. The most recent evidence is that they are the sister group to the Phengodidae, in a clade that also contains the family Omalisidae, and somewhat distantly related to Lampyridae, whose sister taxon is Cantharidae.Whatever their relationships may be, Rhagophthalmidae are distributed in the Old World, and little is known of their biology. Females are usually wingless and look like larvae, but have an adult beetle's eyes, antennae and legs; in the genus Diplocladon, they resemble larvae even more, with small light organs on all trunk segments. Larvae and females live in soil and litter and are predaceous; males may be attracted to lights at night.Soldier beetle
The soldier beetles (Cantharidae) are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One of the first described species has a color pattern reminiscent of the red coats of early British soldiers, hence the common name. They are also known commonly as leatherwings because of their soft elytra.Historically, these beetles were placed in a superfamily "Cantharoidea", which has been subsumed by the superfamily Elateroidea; the name is still sometimes used as a rankless grouping, including the families Cantharidae, Drilidae, Lampyridae, Lycidae, Omalisidae, Omethidae, Phengodidae (which includes Telegeusidae), and Rhagophthalmidae.Telegeusis
Telegeusis is a genus of beetles in the family Telegeusidae. There are at least 6 described species in Telegeusis.Zarhipis
Zarhipis is a genus of glowworm beetles in the family Phengodidae. There are at least three described species in Zarhipis, all restricted to the western regions of North America.Zarhipis integripennis
Zarhipis integripennis, the western banded glowworm, is a species of glowworm beetle in the family Phengodidae. It is found in North America.
Extant Coleoptera families