Geophilomorph centipede
Geophilomorph centipede
Steve Greatorex spotted this glowing creature (pink object at centre) during a mild spell in December 2005 near Bickleigh in Devon and took this photo with his phone camera. 'I didn't expect to see glow worms at the end of December so when I saw a tiny bluish/greenish light on the road I switched on my torch to try to see what caused it. I saw what looked like a tiny centipede/worm, lots of legs, V-shaped 'feelers' at the end, light brown colour, about 2 to 3 cm long and 1 to 2 mm thick. I've seen one twice in recent nights in the same area.'

Keith Alexander has identified the creature from the description and photograph as a geophilomorph centipede. You will have to seek elsewhere for further information about these, but perhaps the reason they glow is to discourage predators, as is believed to be the case with the larvae of glow worms and fireflies.

Two further reports were received in 2009. In October, Paul Cox in Leicestershire spotted something very similar on his farm, while in November, Adrian Chambers reported as follows:

‘I live in mid-Wales, about 900ft above sea level. I was out walking the dogs tonight just after dark, and noticed a glow on the road (the roads round here are extremely quiet country lanes). I got down on my knees to investigate and shone my torch on the spot the glow was coming from. I saw something resembling a millipede, about 2 inches long and very thin. As far as I could tell in the torchlight it was a pinky-grey, and had a mass of what were either hairs or tiny legs apparently sticking out in all directions. The body seemed to he a series of little luminous blobs or drops joined by thinner non-luminous bits. I guess there were about 15 such blobs. Of course I could not see the luminescence when the torch was on, but when I switched it off and allowed my eyes to adjust, they glowed markedly. The creature seemed to be scurrying to and fro very confusedly – apparently thrown by the torchlight. There were also three or four shorter strands of static blobs, each of 3 or 4 glowing ‘bulbs’, but the creature itself was moving all in one piece and it was definitely glowing as it moved.’

In May 2012, Trevor and Dilys Pendleton found a geophilomorph centipede in Sherwood Forest at a glow-worm site and has a good picture and description on his website.

Back to UK Glow Worm Survey home page