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The Bioluminescent Glow Worm (Arachnocampa luminosa)

Glowworms are fascinating creatures that look magnificent inside of dark places, such as caves. But what exactly are they? Let's look at the science and find out more about these bioluminescent beings.





Physical Description and Behavior


These worms are the larvae stage of a fungal gnat. They actually grow into an adult fly, but do not live for very long after that. In fact, the adult flies only live 3 to 4 days after hatching, with females living a day shorter than males. This is probably due to the females laying over 100 eggs during that time.


The larvae egg is laid on the roof of the cave, where it hatches and starts to build a nest out of silk. After it is done building its nest, it starts to drop down up to 20 or 30 threads of silk dotted with small drops of liquid.


Small insects see the glow of the young worm and are attracted to it. It is then when it is trapped, and the worm pulls up the prey, eating it alive. These dotted strings hanging from the ceiling glow in the light from the worm, making it a stunning thing to look at.


Their bioluminescence looks blue and can be rather bright. The adult stage of this worm can also glow. Although the purpose of the adult glowing is yet unknown. In fact, the glow itself is very similar to that of the North American Firefly. However, the mechanisms seem to be different overall.


Habitat and Location





There are many glowworms on the Eastern Australian coast, but this is the only one that can be found in New Zealand. They usually hang out in dark and moist caves. There is no conservation data about this species as of the time of writing.


See this awesome little worm in HD by watching this video: