I have found a new spot to add to my “OMG I Must Go Here” list: The Waitmo Glowworm cave of New Zealand.

These insects are a type of midge (fly) (Arachnocampa) that are bioluminescent as larvae. The sun literally shines out of their ass, since their luciferin gland is in the rear segments of the body. Check out the Waitomo flickr set.

And look–Video with David Attenborough!!

What we normally think of as ‘Glowworms’ in the US and UK are a different group than these NZ flies, and like the other glowing bugs, fireflies, are beetles. The Phengodidae are a diverse group. Most of the larvae are bioluminescent, and so are females. Interestingly, females don’t develop into typical adult beetles, but remain “larviform”.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. I can assure you that it’s well worth a visit. There’s something really quite magical about the place.

  2. Glow little glow worm, glitter, glitter has now taken on a new meaning for me. Super cool post. ;-)

  3. That place is the best- you can do a raft trip down the cave and just look up at the ceiling where all the glow worms are. There’s wetas, too. And you can rappel down into it if you like.

  4. I was there several years ago and it’s unforgettably cool. Even the chatty people on the trip were quiet (except for oohing and aahing) in the glow worm cave.

  5. Ah, yes…the mucus hammock. Not big sellers but they DID keep you from falling out…

  6. Gorgeous video. I usually skim right by people’s picks after just a few seconds. But I think the glow worm’s silk snared me. :) Thanks and hullo!

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