A volcano may have snuffed out the light of a tricky glowing cockroach.
The insect, Lucihormetica luckae, sported glowing patches and reflective surfaces on its back which made the roach resemble another glowing insect, the poisonous click beetle. However looking like a toxic neighbor couldn't protect the the incandescent insect from the eruption of the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador, the only known habitat for the insect.
The roach was only known from a single specimen collected more than 70 years ago, reported the entomologists who described the creature in August in the journal Naturwissenschaften. Besides molten magma, the study authors speculated the insect may have also faced the difficulty of being out-shined by the glow of urban sprawl approaching the volcano from Quito, Ecuador to the north and other towns.
This kind of mimicry using bio-luminesence is rare in nature. Some species of predatory fireflies will mimic the flash patterns of other species of firefly. The predators copy the pattern of flashes used by females of other species to lure in males who, instead of love, find death.
IMAGES: Lucihormetica luckae, Credit: Peter Vršanský et al., Naturwissenschaften (2012)