Microphotus angustus – Pink Glowworm

California Coast Range

Believe it or not, this squishy pink thing is an adult beetle.

Now and again, evolution produces a species that loses the complexities of the adult form. These animals simply retain a larval appearance into their adult life, later gaining only the ability to mate and have offspring independent of the other trappings of maturity. Perhaps the adult traits of large eyes, large brains, long legs, and big wings are so expensive that just skipping all that extra development allows an animal to get on that much more efficiently with the business of laying eggs. In any case, these examples of foregone maturity are scattered throughout the animals: there are salamanders that never grow up, and caterpillars that never turn into moths.

Microphotus is a firefly. The adult male looks like a normal firefly: eyes, wings, the works. As you can see, the female here remains grub-like. True to her lineage, though, she still glows. That’s how I spotted her one night as she dragged herself through the leaf litter.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon D60

ISO 100, f/13, 1/200 sec, flash diffused through tracing paper


  1. #1 Aydin
    August 29, 2008

    Here is my post about a firefly larva eating a snail. This is interesting, because there is a family of beetles that are also snail predators, the Drilidae, and their females are also larviform.

  2. #2 deadmanswill
    August 30, 2008

    That’s a wonderful gear of photography equipment you’ve got. And of course an eye to match.

  3. #3 FireFly
    July 8, 2009

    I like it!!!!!

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