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They Crawl Among Us

About five minutes after leaving the top of Cowles Mountain on Saturday, May 9, six flashlight-toting hikers encountered something they had never seen before.

It was approximately 8:30 p.m. on a dark night, with the full moon not due to rise for another seven minutes or so. The hikers were on a short path just below the summit that connects the Cowles Mountain Trail with the so-called “Jeep Road.”

A tiny point of bright green light on the ground at the side of the trail pierced the darkness. Upon close examination, the source of the light was determined to be a small salmon-colored insect, about half an inch in length. At the rear of its body, on the right side, were what appeared to be two tiny segments of light, glowing a bright lime-green.

The insect was later identified as being a female Microphotus angustus, or “pink glowworm beetle.” Not really a worm, the pink glowworm is more accurately described as a beetle larva. The female never matures beyond the larval stage. She waits motionless on the ground, advertising herself with constantly glowing light, hoping to attract a flying male.

Author’s note: Cowles is properly pronounced “coals,” although the majority of San Diegans mispronounce it as if it rhymes with “towels.”

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About five minutes after leaving the top of Cowles Mountain on Saturday, May 9, six flashlight-toting hikers encountered something they had never seen before.

It was approximately 8:30 p.m. on a dark night, with the full moon not due to rise for another seven minutes or so. The hikers were on a short path just below the summit that connects the Cowles Mountain Trail with the so-called “Jeep Road.”

A tiny point of bright green light on the ground at the side of the trail pierced the darkness. Upon close examination, the source of the light was determined to be a small salmon-colored insect, about half an inch in length. At the rear of its body, on the right side, were what appeared to be two tiny segments of light, glowing a bright lime-green.

The insect was later identified as being a female Microphotus angustus, or “pink glowworm beetle.” Not really a worm, the pink glowworm is more accurately described as a beetle larva. The female never matures beyond the larval stage. She waits motionless on the ground, advertising herself with constantly glowing light, hoping to attract a flying male.

Author’s note: Cowles is properly pronounced “coals,” although the majority of San Diegans mispronounce it as if it rhymes with “towels.”

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Comments
4

very cool....i cannot count the times i climbed cowles mtn as a teenager.....born and raised in S.D. and i never knew the proper pronunciation! Live and learn. great article!

May 13, 2009

Apparently you're right that the majority of San Diegans mispronounce Cowles. I have always pronounced it as rhyming with "Towels", and I grew up about 2 miles away from it!!

May 14, 2009

In the story I make an assertion regarding the proper pronunciation of Cowles Mountain, but fail to back it up.

When I first came to San Diego in 1990, just like every other newcomer, I said it as if rhyming with "towels" because that's how it looked when I saw "Cowles" on the map. Then during a nature hike in the same year a park ranger explained the proper pronunciation.

Today, you can find proof of the proper pronunciation by visiting the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor and Interpretive Center.

www.sandiegoreader.com/places/mission-trails-regional-park

Several audio-visual presentations use the correct pronunciation, and at least one acknowledges the common mispronunciation.

Online evidence: www.mtrp.org/history.asp?idno=27

July 18, 2009

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