New Zealand's Carnivorous Glow Worms

Saturday August 01, 2015 Written by Ronan

Picture a cave in the New Zealand mountains. Pretty beautiful, right? Now imagine it has a constellation of glowing worms suspended from its ceiling. Enchanting, no? Akin, perhaps, to an elven-themed wedding marquee. Except for one thing: the glow worms are carnivorous. And they're hungry.

Lest you freak out too much, there's another piece of information we should probably add. These meat-eating worms live on an insect-only diet, so baring any freak mutation event, spelunking humans needn't worry too much.

Known properly as Arachnocampa luminosa, the hungry, faerie-like critters exist only in New Zealand, where they reside in caves and abandoned mines. Joseph Michael spent some time among them and their 50-centimetre-long, bug-catching tendrils and photographed this series of long-exposure shots that capture their phosphorescent beauty. But the real thing, he says, is even more magical.

If you are keen to get amongst the worms in their subterranean, Avatar-like world, Ruakuri cave in Waitomo offers guided tours. Just don't feed the animals.