What Insects Glow Under Black Light?

Welcome to this discussion about insects that glow under black light. Black light is a type of ultraviolet (UV) light that emits a low level of visible light while causing certain materials to glow brightly. Insects have evolved many fascinating adaptations, and one of the most intriguing is their ability to fluoresce under a black light. In this conversation, we will explore which insects glow under a black light, why they fluoresce, and the benefits and drawbacks of their ability to glow. Let’s get started!

The Science Behind Black Light

Before we dive into the world of glowing insects, let’s first understand the science behind black light. A black light emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is invisible to the human eye. However, certain materials and substances absorb this UV radiation and emit visible light at a different wavelength. This is what creates the eerie, glowing effect we associate with black lights.

Types of Black Lights

There are two types of black lights: fluorescent and LED. Fluorescent black lights are the traditional ones that emit UV radiation through a phosphor coating. LED black lights use a combination of blue and UV LEDs to create the same effect.

Safety Precautions

It’s important to note that prolonged exposure to UV radiation can be harmful to humans and animals. Always wear protective eyewear and clothing when using black lights, and limit your exposure time.

Insects That Glow Under Black Light

Now that we understand the science behind black light, let’s explore which insects glow under its glow.


One of the most well-known insects that glow under black light are scorpions. These nocturnal creatures have a unique ability to fluoresce under UV light, making them easy to spot in the dark. Scientists believe this adaptation helps scorpions locate prey and avoid predators.

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Fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, are another insect that glows under black light. Unlike scorpions, fireflies produce their own light through a process called bioluminescence. This is the same process that causes deep-sea creatures like anglerfish to glow in the dark.


Millipedes might not be the first insect that comes to mind when you think of glowing under black light, but they actually do! These long, segmented creatures fluoresce under UV light, and scientists are still unsure why. Some speculate that it could be a form of communication or a way to deter predators.


Beetles are the most diverse group of insects, with over 350,000 known species. Some species of beetles also glow under black light, including the familiar June bug. Like fireflies, these beetles produce their own light through bioluminescence.

FAQs for what insects glow under black light

What is a black light?

A black light is a type of light that emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It looks dark purple to the human eye, but when shone on certain materials, it causes them to glow or fluoresce.

What insects glow under black light?

Many insects are known to glow under black light, including scorpions, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, some beetles, and certain types of moths.

What causes insects to glow under black light?

The glow or fluorescence is caused by certain chemicals or pigments in the insect’s exoskeleton that react to the UV light. For example, scorpions contain a fluorescent chemical called hyaluronidase that glows blue under black light.

How do scientists use black lights to study insects?

Black lights are used by entomologists and other scientists to attract and trap insects. By examining the insects that are attracted to the black light, they can study their behavior, distribution, and abundance. The presence or absence of certain glowing insects can also be used to monitor environmental health and pollutants.

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Are there any harmful effects of using black lights on insects?

While black lights themselves are not harmful to insects, the use of insect traps that utilize black lights can sometimes result in the death of the attracted insects. However, many traps are designed to release the insects unharmed after they’ve been captured for study.

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