New Zealand boasts one of the most breathtaking and fascinating caves in the entire world. This is no ordinary cave, you see. Inside the Waitomo Caves, around a half mile underground, the darkness gives way to glowing lights caused by bioluminescent larvae, making it appear as if you are standing beneath a beautiful starry night sky. But don’t let the beautiful façade fool you; these are no friendly little fireflies. The larvae in Waitomo Caves are actually destined to become the much less twinkly Arachnocampa luminosa gnat. These cute glow worms are actually vicious little carnivores, using this dirty trick to try and lure prey to them.
If you want to see the starry night sky a half mile underneath the ground, then you have to go and visit the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand. The glow worms that live there are bioluminescent, similar to fireflies, and will light up the underground cave with their beautiful blue glow, transporting you to a place that feels more like the setting of a fairy tale than a dark and dirty cave. Similar to how fireflies use chemical reactions to cause the bioluminescence, the glow worms also achieve their iconic glow through chemical reactions within their bodies. However, while fireflies use their bioluminescent powers to look for love, the glow worms use their powers for a more nefarious purpose, to lure in unsuspecting prey. They actually use it to confuse moths, which use the real night sky to navigate around at night, into thinking they are a starry sky. The light confuses the moths into flying straight into the gooey string of beads the glow worms dangle from the ceiling, getting their wings tangled and effectively trapping them as well as a spider web would. It’s kind of like fishing. Once the glow worm has caught a moth, they then reel in the beads with the confused and gluey moth attached, much like one uses a fishing pole, and start munching on their feast while the poor moth is still alive.
Many tourists flock to the caves every year, with a number of them even getting married beneath the brightly glowing, carnivorous feast fest. That sounds pretty romantic…right?
Have you ever seen any other bioluminescent insects that give people a good show? Would you want to get married in that cave?