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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Insect that fly without wings and absorbs light

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Question
Where I work there is a spotlight illuminating a gate. While having a cigarette I noticed a swarm of bright insects crashing against the glass of the spotlight. They were flying against the glass of the lamp, banging themselves against the glass. They were about 2 inches long with a width slightly smaller than a straw. They would not keep that shape and would become round like the size of the pencil eraser. They are transparent. When they hit the glass of the lamp they bounce back and are bright like the glow of electric soldering. And they start the process again. This went on for the time it took me to have a king size cigarette. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Answer
Dear Pablo - This is yet another example of a picture being worth a thousand words. I'm reasonably sure that if you were able to obtain an image of these mystery creatures, I could at least give you some idea as to their identity. As it is, your description does not match anything in your area that I can think of. The only flying insects there that glow naturally are fireflies and click beetles in the tribe Pyrophorini, and neither of these fit your description. There also is the possibility that the 'glow' you saw was simply a reflection of the spotlight from the insects' exoskeleton, in which case they could have been just about anything. All I can suggest is that you carry a camera with you when you go on break, and should you see these again, try to obtain a photo or two that you could append to a follow-up question.

Sincerly,
Saugy

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad

Expertise

Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.

Experience

21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Organizations
Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

Publications
American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

Education/Credentials
B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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