Have You Seen the Dazzling Glowing Worms of Australia and New Zealand?

Despite their name, they're not worms at all

Australia and New Zealand have some pretty exciting wildlife. From the kangaroo to the Kiwi bird, our wildlife is distinctly unique.

The Glow Worm, though small and rare is no exception. 

The “Glow Worm” is known for its bioluminescence, but despite its name, the insect isn’t actually a worm at all, but rather larvae of the fungus gnat.

The fungus gnat is only a few millimetres long and dwells in the safety of dark, wet rainforest caves. The intricate creature spins long lines of web from the ceiling and dot the line with mucus like threaded beads.

The adult fungus gnat has a very short lifespan- just enough time to mate, lay eggs and die. The larvae live for nine months prior. Because the gnats are born without mouths, they need to retain as much food during this time as possible in order to metamorphose.

The glowing or bioluminescence is a chemical reaction that occurs when the enzymes and pigment in the larvae’s body collide with the oxygen in the air causing the insect to glow blueish green. The glowing lights lure prey into the sticky webs dangling from the ceiling similar to a spider.

Waitomo's Lights

The beautiful glowing larvae of Australia and New Zealand are extremely sensitive. Any change to their environment could be detrimental to these amazing creatures, so it’ s important when visiting not to shine light directly on the larvae or use flash photography. There’s no smoking in the caves, you cannot touch them, and you mustn’t make too much noise.

The best time to see the Larvae is in the hotter, wetter months.

So where can you see these handsome devils?

New South Wales

• Glowworm Tunnel, Lithgow, Blue Mountains
• Glowworm Glen, Bundanoon, Morton National Park

Queensland

• Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast
• Tamborine Mountain, Gold Coast

Victoria

• Melba Gully, Great Otway National Park

New Zealand

• Waitomo Caves in New Zealand

The caves are proof that even creatures like the fungus gnat can be beautiful.

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