Fluorescent millipedes on Alcatraz

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Fluorescing millipedes. Image credit: Robert Kimsey

Alcatraz is even more exciting that I had previously thought! Early last year the National Park Service had baited rats on the island with a non-toxic fluorescent food dye so they could track the animals as they left behind fluorescent droppings. Volunteers from the UC Davis entomology club along with workers then searched the island using black lights to find evidence of the rodents. Finding fluorescent millipedes instead was quite a surprise for the UC Davis entomology group! Dr. Robert Kimsey and his student Alexander Nguyen are studying what makes the millipedes glow. I can’t but wonder if the bugs just happened to eat baited rat food. Whether they became fluorescent by natural means, or by ingesting fluorescent dye, they certainly are a beautiful sight.

Comments

  1. #1 Jockaira
    March 29, 2013

    Alcatraz is a beautiful site.

    A fluorescent millepede is a beautiful sight.

    You have my permission to use one of these as a cite.

  2. #2 Riick
    March 29, 2013

    It is well known scorpions fluoresce. The Wikipedia article on scorpions ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion ) mentions it.

  3. #3 Emily
    March 30, 2013

    Some scorpions are fluorescent so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was natural.

  4. #4 Dan L
    April 1, 2013

    Scorpions are also fluorescent, and that is often how they are detected by humans hunting them.