When Georgia Glows, Foxfire and he Unique Hawkinsville Glowworms

hawkinsville
Beneath Pulaski County soil glowworms make light to frighten off predators.

By Jim Miles

Foxfire

Some 50 organisms have developed the ability to glow for various reasons.  Most common is the firefly, but lakes glow in Puerto Rico and Australia.  Mariners since ancient times have occasionally reported oceans aglow, a phenomenon confirmed in recent years by satellite photography.  In many regions, including Georgia, forest floors glow in the fall when leaf covered ground glows from luminous fungi rotting leaves and wood.  That is the well-known phenomenon called Foxfire.

The Hawkinsville Glowworms

Unarguably, the world’s weirdest glowing phenomenon are a certain species of worm, called Diplocardia longa.  The Latin term translates as “long two hearts,” and it is long, up to two feet, making it one of America’s longest annelids.  Besides the vicinity of Hawkinsville, it can be found in parts of New Zealand and Australia.

These worms live in the earth, safe from any predator except the Eastern Mole, a veracious critter.  To survive close mole encounters, Diplocardia longa twists and turns and produces a sticky substance that glows blue from luciferase.  The idea is that the offending mole will be deterred from the taste of worm snot and disoriented by the sudden blue light in the underground darkness.  Amid the confusion, the long worm makes its escape.

Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at milesbooks@cox.net

 

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