The glowworms found in the Waitomo and Ruakuri caves are the larvae of a species of gnat called Arachnocampa luminosa, which is unique to New Zealand. 'Arachno' means spider-like, and refers to the way glowworms catch their food like spiders do. 'Campa' means larva and 'luminosa' means light-producing.
These insects spend most of their life as larvae (juveniles), growing to the size of a matchstick. Although the effect of their twinkling lights is beautiful, the Waitomo Caves glowworm itself actually looks quite like a maggot!
The glow that we see comes from the insect’s tail, which is bioluminescent – the chemicals it produces react with the oxygen in the air to generate light. This light attracts other insects, which then get trapped in the sticky threads the glowworm spins and hangs down from the roof of the cave.
The Waitomo Caves are the perfect environment for glowworms, because they are dark, damp, and sheltered. This means the glowworms’ lights can be seen and their feeding threads don’t get dried out or blown around by wind. The river that flows through the caves brings them plenty of insects to catch, making the Waitomo Caves glowworms very happy in their underground home. To ensure the protection of these creatures, the caves are carefully monitored.
What do glowworms eat?
Glowworms catch and eat small flying insects, like moths and flies.
Glowworm Jokes for Kids
Q. Why did the bird want to eat glow worms?
A. It wanted a light meal.
Q.Why was the glow-worm unhappy?
A. Because her childern were not bright.
I wish I was a glowworm
A glowworm's never glum
It's hard to be downhearted,
When the sun shines out your bum!