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Fluorescence In Arthropods

Discussion in 'Field Trips (Natural Habitats)' started by erty1, May 18, 2018.

  1. erty1

    erty1 Arachnopeon

    Fluorescence In Arthropods

    Many Arthropods fluoresce when exposed to Ultraviolet Light. While in Arizona, I first learned this when my grandpa showed me that scorpions fluoresce when you shine Ultraviolet Light (UV) on them.


    I wondered how many types of Arthropods fluoresce. I did some research, and found that a lot of Arthropods fluoresce. Then I wondered how and why they fluoresce. I did research on that, and found out this:

    Fluorescence happens when the outer layer of the scorpion’s exoskeleton absorbs UV Light and re-emits it as visible light. Two compounds are involved: beta-carboline and 4-methyl, 7-hydroxycoumarin.

    We don’t really know why most Arthropods fluoresce, but scorpions have been studied in more detail. A theory has been proposed and tested that they use UV as a way to detect shade (and, by association, shelter). Another theory is that this adaptation originated from the Devonian period, when the land was occupied by giant scorpions. It could’ve been used as a way to tolerate the sun. Either way, it is a cool adaptation to watch in action, especially at night. I hope I will be able to see it again.

    Here are some tips on how to find fluorescent creatures:

    1. Use a UV flashlight

    2. Look for them at night

    3. Minimize light from your house and other nearby light sources.

    4. Know which bugs live in your area and which ones fluoresce, so you know what you are looking for.

    5. Look before you leap; sweep your UV flashlight or a normal flashlight on the ground in front of you, especially if you live in an area with dangerous bugs or other dangerous creatures, just in case there are things on the ground in front of you that you’ll regret stepping on. (there were a few times in Arizona that we almost stepped on scorpions in the backyard, and we were only wearing Crocs!)

    6. Do it with a friend; it’s a lot more fun, and you’ll find more creatures.

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  2. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Arachnoknight Active Member

    What else have you found that glow in uv light? Apart from scorpions I haven't come across any so far here in South Australia.
    I found a lot of tennis balls though!