You Are Just a Glow Off!

Listen to the podcast of this post here.

Have you ever played in the dark with a glow stick?

These neon-colored toys are a lot of fun and help you see when the lights go out. But did you know some species of flies, fungus, and fish can also glow in the dark?

These unusual creatures all have what is known as a bioluminescent quality. Some use this special glow to attract mates and food, while others use it to scare off predators.  

Let’s explore the glowing world of these unique creatures.

The Light of a Firefly? Glowing Butts


The summer night is alive with twinkly activity. The fireflies how come out to play.

Fireflies are perhaps the most common critter that has a glowing-light source.

As the male flies around, a chemical reaction in his butt will blink. He flashes his light (which can be yellow, green or orange), to attract a female.   

There are around 2,000 different species of these beetle-like bugs, and they each have their own pattern of light flashing. Some can even synchronize their light-shows.

The firefly larvae also glow. This is done to warn predators that they are unpleasant to eat.

The Ghoulish Glow of the Ghost Fungus

imagesImagine you are walking in the jungles of Tasmania and spot a ghoulish glow coming from the base of a tree. It may look out-of-this-world, but it is actually coming from the Ghost Fungus.

This funnel-shaped fungus can grow up to 12 inches across and is cream-colored with shades of orange, brown, purple, or bluish-black.

However, it is the gills (deep ridges that run down the underside of the mushroom) that glow a beautiful greenish-light.

Like other fungi, the ghost fungus likes to grow from the stumps or around the base of dead trees. As this mushroom ages, its ghostly-glow will slowly fade away.

Deep Sea Glow ~ The Black Dragonfish


Deep down in the darkness of the sea, many creatures use their light to hunt with – the Black Dragonfish is one of them.

These long, slender fish lurk around in waters about 3,280 feet below the surface of the ocean.  Both the male and female black dragonfish are quite startling in their appearance.

The female has small eyes, long fang-like teeth, chin barbel, and is about 15 inches long. The male is only 1.9 inches long, and he doesn’t have any teeth or chin barbel at all.

To attract prey so far below the water the black dragonfish uses its tiny light-producing organs.  These are found scattered over its body with two rows running along the side of the fish. The chin barbel of the female also has a slender luminous tip.

When the black dragonfish glows its light, other sea creatures are attracted to it. Once the dragon fish’s dinner is close enough, it quickly snaps it up.

These critters love to “glow off” their special ability.

Do you know of any other animals or plants that can glow? Tell us about it in our comments section. Then you can be a “glow off,” too!

Be sure to come back next week when we will discover more about fireflies!

Categories: Bugs, Nature, Science

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