10 Stunning Glow-in-the-Dark Animals

Whether to lure mates, detect prey, or to escape from predators, these bioluminescent animals glow in the dark. Check them out and learn how they do it.

1. Firefly

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Fireflies or lightning bugs are nocturnal beetles comprising the family Lampyridae. There are about 2,000 extant species of firefly.

Everyone knows how fireflies got their name, but many people don”t know how the insects produce their signature glow. The answer is that fireflies have dedicated light organs situated below their abdomens. As oxygen enters into the abdomen, it combine with an organic compound called luciferin. A chemical reaction takes place and gives off the familiar yellow-green glow of a firefly.

This spectacular Glow-in-the-Dark insect can regulate the airflow into the abdomen producing a blinking pattern. Fireflies use their glow to attract mates.

2. Antarctic Krill

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Do Antarctic krill really glow in the dark at sea? How do they do this?

Yes, Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) often referred to as light-shrimp really do glow in the dark. They have photophores (“light spots”) along their sides, their ventral surface (facing downward), and beneath their eyes. These photophores produce a blueish-purple light using a special chemical reaction common to many light producing animals.

3. Green Bomber Worm

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Thousands of feet beneath the sea live segmented worms that can release green glowing body parts! This kind of glow-in-the-dark ability is called bioluminescence. In 2009, scientists found a new kind of glowing animal, a swimming worm. They call it a Green bomber worm (Swima bombiviridis).

To escape from predators, the “swimming green bomb” release little balloons of skin filled with a fluid that glows green. The glowing skin distracts predators, which allows the green bombers to swim away.

4. Crystal Jelly

The Crystal jelly (Aequorea Victoria) is a brightly luminescent jelly, with glowing points around the margin of the umbrella. When disturbed or threatened, it emits give a green-blue glow under special lighting because of more than 100 tiny, light-producing organs surrounding their outer bell. This emission of light comes from its ability to release calcium (Ca2) very quickly, which interacts with the photoprotein aequorin. Crystal jelly is able to glow in order to send a threat to its enemies. However, this jellyfish does not glow if it is not underwater.

5. Scorpion

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Scorpions are known to glow a vibrant neon blue when exposed to ultraviolet (‘black’) light. This transformation is due to the presence of several chemicals, including beta-carboline, that cause it to glow under UV light. Scientists still can”t figure out the reasons why scorpions glow. Perhaps to lure their prey, byproducts of normal chemical reactions or to attract mates. one thing is sure, scorpions lose this ability temporarily when they shed their skins, but gradually regain it after their molts.

6. New Zealand Glowworm

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The New Zealand glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa) are the larvae (maggots) of a special kind of fly known as a fungus gnat. They are found found only in the dark and damp areas of New Zealand, particularly the Waitomo Caves. The species construct a glowing canopy or a snare of sticky threads as they hang down to the ceilings or walls of caves. As night descends, they glow a radiant blue color to lure unsuspecting prey.

The glow-worm’s tail-light shines from an organ which is the equivalent of a human kidney. All insects have this organ but the glow-worm has a unique ability to produce a blue-green light from it.

The chemical reaction that produces the light consumes a lot of oxygen. An airbag surrounds the light organ, providing it with oxygen and acting as a silvery reflector to concentrate the light. The New Zealand glowworm can glow at all stages of its life cycle (except as an egg), but the larva has the brightest light.

7. Flashlight Fish

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The Flashlight fish (Photoblepharon palpebratus) is a nocturnal fish of the Indo-Pacific. The species is well known for the photophores (light emitting organ) found under its eye, which harbours bioluminescent bacteria, allowing them to produce an eerie glow when seen in the dark. The fluorescent white to bluish-green glow is used to navigate, lure prey, communicate with one another and avoid predators.

8. Firefly Squid

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The Firefly squid (Watasenia Scintillans) or the sparkling enope squid is found throughout the western Pacific Ocean. It gets its name from the flashing lights that resemble those of a firefly.

This spectacular glow-in-the-dark squid is equipped with special light-producing organs called photophores. Each tentacle has a photophore attached to it, which emits a deep blue light. The lights can be flashed in unison or alternated in an endless number of animated patterns. When flushed, the Firefly squid can even control these lights to scare off other predators, communicate with other members of its species, or lure in prey!

9. Clusterwink Snail

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Terrestrial snails produce a glowing light from their foot to attract mates. But the Clusterwink snail (Hineas Brasiliana) is the first discovered to use the shell-flashing trick as a form of self-defense. This sea snail can flicker their spiral shells like dim, blue-green light bulbs. It emits bright blue-green flashes of light like an alarm when other creatures rub past its shell. The light is produced from the mantle tissue and shines through the pale translucent shell, which acts to diffuse the light so that the whole shell glows.

10. Sierra luminous millipedes

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The eight species of millipedes in the genus Motyxia are the only millipedes that glow in the dark. Emission of a greenish-blue light is uniform across the exoskeleton, and all the appendages (legs, antennae) and body rings emit light. Luminescence is generated by means of molecules called photoproteins which generate light upon combination with oxygen or other oxidizing agents. These bugs use bioluminescence as a defence strategy to outwit predators, according to a new study.

19 thoughts on “10 Stunning Glow-in-the-Dark Animals


    Fireflies are my favorite! That scorpion is scary… but at least you'll see it before it gets to you! lol.

  2. Erica Villas

    wow, that only thing i didn't know here were the Sierra luminous millipedes and Clusterwink Snail which by the way looks like a butt..hehehe

  3. Fernando Lachica

    Wow awesome roundup! I particularly want to see the glow worms in New Zealand. The firefly squid sounds scary though!

  4. Rochkirstin Santos

    The most common is fireflies and shrimps for this subject matter. For other animals, I hope that I could glimpse for my remaining life here on earth. They're beautiful to watch…

  5. Gigi M

    These creatures are all amazing! I once thought that the flashlight fish's glow was only man-made, like men covered their bodies with glow-in-the-night stickers.

  6. Saminu Abass Ola

    I didn't know there were more animals than the fireflies that glow in the dark. I forgot that jellyfish do look beautiful in the water. I see them at the zoos and I have great photos of them glowing. No wonder those jelly fish exhibits are usually placed in dark rooms.

  7. Debarpan

    Waoooo. This is a great compilation of creatures whom enjoy glue dark. Thanks for sharing

  8. Fred Hawson

    Wow!!the list of such amazing animal is quite big as 10 but yup it could be much more as well.I like that New Zealand glowworms,it's so amazing actually.

  9. Tiffany Yong W.T.

    I know that a lot of undersea creatures who glow in the dark. Nature is really fascinating as they make creatures unique and beautiful, and functional.

  10. Shawnyce

    Wow, I didn't know there's so many animals which can glow in the dark! I'm most amazed by the Scorpion. I'm glad it is bright so no one will get hurt by stepping on it by accident.

  11. Claire Algarme

    This is very interesting, and that millipede freaked me out lol!! I think it is funny that fireflies are named "lamp"yridae. I did know about those and scorpions which are indigenous to where I live. We have to check our backyards with UV lights to make sure scorpions aren't running about.

  12. Sunshine Kelly

    I've seen the New Zealand Glowworms in Waitomo a month ago! It was a brief experience and would have wanted to see more. The actual viewing was too short I wanted to explore more of the cave and the Glowworms. 🙂

  13. Franc

    I love firefly, when I was a kid my dad use to catch fireflies and put it in a glass jar. We can see the light at night.

  14. Rebecca Laurel

    I didn't know that scorpions glow but does look amazing when they would be seen in dark caves. I remember seeing a very colorful jellyfish exhibit before in Hong Kong Ocean Park.

  15. May Palacpac

    So interesting!!!! I have recently went to the SEA Life Aquarium in London and the jellyfish changes color according to the lighting in the tank it was so beautiful! All these other animals you showed look really amazing too!

  16. RainbowDiaries Singapore

    The sea world can be very intriguing to read about. You're right, we know stuff like this fish or that fish glows – and I talk about those with my kids in their homeschool, but this is actually the first time I read how they get it done. It's funny that even bacteria can be utilised by these creatures to create light in themselves.

  17. Anonymous

    Wow! I didn't know many of these animals..Nature is full of wonders. Salute to the Creator!

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