What if that twinkling night sky above you was actually a whole colony of worms who really wanted to eat you?
That would be your reality if you were an insect fluttering through these glowing caves. Thankfully, you are a human (I’m guessing?) and you can journey into this magical place without fearing a sticky attack from the carnivorous worms who call New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves home.
So how are these bugs capable of lighting up? And how, with their limited mobility, do they catch insects that dwarf them in size? There are a few interesting things that help them survive, so here’s SciShow to reveal their secrets.
As you heard above, when these glow worms residing in New Zealand and Australia become adults, they lack a rather important body part: a digestive system. This means the larvae’s sole purpose is to eat as much as they can to sustain themselves into adulthood long enough to mate.
KQED’s Deep Look brings us closer to the mesmerizing goopy lines they suspend that help them perfect their carnivorous acts! Beware, it does get a little gory with all of the insect-eating-insect action.
In case these glow worms weren’t already interesting enough, here’s another fun fact:
Aside from merely noting the location you find them in (which is just a little too obvious for my taste), you can tell the difference between a New Zealand glow worm and an Australian glow worm by looking at them as pupae (what they are right before they turn into a fly). Those of New Zealand descent hang vertically from a single thread, while the Australians take a different approach and hang horizontally from both a front and rear thread. A pretty interesting difference, right?
Sadly, we won’t be seeing any Australian glowworms today, but here’s yet another video to give us a deeper look inside of the Waitomo Caves. This time’s a little different as National Geographic gives us a 360-degree tour around this luminescent space. Just click and drag your cursor in the video to interact!
Nature has developed some truly interesting ways of survival. To see how we’re using our findings on the way the world works to better design our own technology and practices check out this article:
You’re probably wondering why you should care about glow worms. But really, why shouldn’t you care about a glowworm? They’ve developed an intricate, unique, and beautiful way to survive and ensure they’re able to live their best lives as adults.
Stay open to new possibilities!
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein
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- “Weird Places: Waitomo Caves.” Youtube. SciShow, 16 Apr. 2013. Web. 6 Feb. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0hV-sD0Slg>. ↩
- “These Carnivorous Worms Catch Bugs by Mimicking the Night Sky | Deep Look.” YouTube. Deep Look, 28 June 2016. Web. 06 Feb. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLb0iuTVzW0>. ↩
- “Glow Worm Caves of New Zealand in 360° | National Geographic.” YouTube. National Geographic, 18 Oct. 2016. Web. 06 Feb. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjqGlLVIAtg>. ↩