Tech by VICE

These Cave-Dwelling Glowworms Will Give You The Creeps

ourney into these northern New Zealand caves where glowworms speckle the ceilings with pseudo-starlight and work up a carnivorous appetite.

by Monica Rodriguez
Jun 29 2016, 8:02pm

In the depths of New Zealand's Waitomo Caves, fluorescent larvae offer a glimmering constellation against the darkness like glow-in-the-dark star stickers incarnate.

The trippy glowworms won't stay luminous for long as they will eventually complete a disappointing metamorphosis into ever-obnoxious gnats. However, strolling through the vast caves, you'll encounter the sheer spectacle of their youth. Clinging to the rocky ceiling by threads of their own silk, the larvae perform an eerie astronomical imitation to catch their prey.

As the moon and stars guide a moth's linear direction, the larva's star-like appearance confounds the insect and draws it towards the light. Then, in its final act of torture, it spools the moth up its crystal thread and devours it alive. All the while, these thousands of glowworms animate the cave's ceiling with twinkling blue hues like something straight out of Spielberg's mind.

Although scientists may understand why the tiny critters resemble a clear night sky, many details of their species remain a mystery. Perhaps most puzzling is the punctual dimming and brightening of each of the cave's larvae colonies. It is an odd fact that each nest of worms glows in accordance with their own circadian rhythm given they will never actually observe the star's daily patterns.

All in all, while these pseudo-space worms of the Waitomo Caves may look beautiful, their mystery and carnivorous appetite is the stuff of sci-fi gold.