Coming to think of it, it has been more than 25 years since I first saw a glow-worm in my garden. Ever since, I have seen it every year around Shivarathri festival. The glow-worms would make their presence felt for a few days with their nice green glow and would disappear until the following year.
The inch-long, segmented pale brown worm would raise the tail end of its body and would display the glowing segment. Fearing that the light producing area would be hot, on one occasion, I cautiously picked up the worm. To my surprise, it was not the case. It was only later that I realised that this process of producing light is called bioluminescence. The light emitted is due to a chemical reaction and there is no heat produced.
While talking about glow-worms I should also mention about fireflies. Both these are misnomers. They are neither worms nor flies. They are both beetles!! Glow-worms and fireflies use their light effectively for communication in the dark. This communication can be compared with the Morse code but it can be more complex.
This year I saw a glowing object in the vicinity of my home a few days before Shivarathri and was very elated. I went closer to check and I was disappointed to see a piece of glossy plastic catching a ray from the streetlight. However, it was heartening for me to discover them a few days later in a park nearby. They brightened my evening walks for a whole week and one fine day they disappeared. I now look forward to seeing them again.
So, don’t write-off your garden or a near-by park as they can always spring pleasant surprises!