Cockroaches may not spread disease, and the vast majority of cockroach species do not cause damage to man made structures, but they are, nevertheless, hated by most people. Cockroaches are not even damaging to the natural environment, but given their unpleasant appearance, speedy movements, and their tendency to congregate in dark places within people’s homes, cockroaches are targeted for professional extermination more often than most other common insect pests. Typically, people do not respond well to a cockroach presence within their home. When these creatures are spotted indoors, they are usually chased down with bug-spray, but if you were to find one of the new species of glowing cockroach skittering across your living room floor, you would likely take a moment to marvel at their beautiful appearance. You may think that “beautiful” is the wrong word to describe such a grotesque type of insect, but the recently discovered cockroach species from Ecuador literally glows due to bioluminescence. Say what you will about cockroaches, but seeing one in your home that glowed would likely give you some pause.
Several years ago, a new cockroach species was discovered in the rainforests around an active volcano in the country of Ecuador. This species was named Luchihormetica luckae and they are unique for a few reasons. The most obvious reason for this species uniqueness is its bioluminescent appearance. Bioluminescence is common among sea creatures, but extremely rare among land animals. The source of their glow comes from two eye-like formations that are located on their backs These roaches are also unique in that they use their glowing ability to mimic another type of insect that is predatory in nature. This predatory insect is a type of click beetle that belongs to the Pyrophorus genus. These beetles are found in the same remote volcanic habitat where the glowing roaches were discovered. An analysis of the light produced by the glowing roaches was found to be identical to the light produced by click beetles. The roaches are mimicking the right insects, as click beetles only glow to warn other predators about the toxic compounds that they produce. Any insect foolish enough to ignore this warning signal would die after consuming the toxic compounds that exist within a click beetle’s body. Luckily for the timid glowing roaches, their resemblance to the click beetle means that they get to live an easy life free from predatory attacks.
Excepting fireflies, have you ever spotted a glowing insect of any kind?