How do glow worms glow?
Glow worms have bioluminescent lights.
Bioluminescence means the natural production of light by an organism that is created by a chemical reaction.
In glowworms, a molecule called luciferin is combined with oxygen to create oxyluciferin. A chemical reaction with the light-emitting enzyme luciferase produces their beautiful lights.
It's natural blue/green light that has made these worms famous occurs all inside the creature’s body.
Glow worms are an interesting species because they can't flash their lights on and off like some bioluminescent species. Instead, they produce a sustained stream of light.
But why do glow worms glow?
The ability to glow is all about food. Glow worms use the light as a way to draw in prey.
The bugs are attracted to the light slowly drifting closer and closer until they are caught in the worm’s web.
These webs differ from a spider, instead of being a long silk thread that hangs from the ceiling of the cave, comparable to a long dangling drool.
The sticky residue on the silk thread traps the insects, leaving them hanging there as the worm drags up the thread to devour their prey.
Waitomo Glowworm Cave, New Zealand
Known as the best cave to spot Glow Worms in the wild, the Waitomo Glowworm Cave is located on the North Island of New Zealand. It is home to the Arachnocampa luminosa Glow Worms that cover the ceiling of the cave like stars. For visitors to witness this breathtaking scene, they will need to go 150 feet below ground.
Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, Australia
The Australia’s largest population of Glow Worms can be found in Natural Bridge. Glow Worms can only be seen at night, and are best from December to March. Unfortunately, like all other wild Glow Worm colonies in Queensland, tourism at Natural Bridge is threatening the survival of the Arachnocampa flava Glow Worms, due to continual disruption of their natural light cycles and damage from hundreds of tourists visiting the site nightly.
Dismals Canyon, Alabama, USA
The North American Ofelia fultoni, also known as Dismalites, are the reason for the blue green glow of the dark forests and caves in the Dismals Canyon. Visitors may be lucky enough to see the beauty of these illusive bioluminescent creatures at night with a guide during spring and summer time.
Te Anau Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
Cruising along Lake Te Anau in a small boat will lead visitors to the narrow Glow Worm grotto. The shiny sparkling ceilings of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves can be viewed either day or night. Visitors may need to bend upon entering the caves due to narrow limestones passages which are still being sculpted by the river until now.
Melba Gully, Great Otway National Park, Australia
Glow Worms ideally inhabits in dark, dense, and humid places. Hence, the Melba Gully known as the “Jewel of the Otways” is the perfect habitat for these glowing creatures. They can be seen at night glowing on ledges and along walking tracks. Visitors are advised to cover their lights as artificial lights near the insects cause them to hide their glow. The best time to witness this starlight beauty is during the wetter months of the year – December to March.
Wellington Botanic Garden, Wellington, New Zealand
Visiting the capital of New Zealand? Don’t miss a chance to witness glow worms in the Botanic Garden located in the heart of the city. You can visit anytime as the garden is free for everyone, but the sparkling insects are best watched after it has rained on spring nights.
Hokitika Glow Worm Dell, New Zealand
Just a minute walk from the road, you can enjoy a mini fairy land scenery in the cutest Glow Worm dell in Hokitika. The glow is present year-round but only in the dark. Don’t forget to bring your own torch but never shine your light on the insects.