It’s Hard to Believe These Long-Exposure Photos of Glowing Worms are Real

 

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience

Arachnocampa luminosa, commonly known as a glowworm is a bioluminiscent gnat larva found mostly throughout New Zealand’s caves. The species is generally widespread, although populations are isolated due to the lack of suitable habitat in areas where farming is intense and forests were cut down. The species glows both in its larval and in its adult stages.

Both males and females glow, but not as bright as larvae; males grow stronger than females, presumably to attract mates. As for the larva, they glow to attract prey into their threads, perhaps luring them into believing they are outdoors. Hungry larvae glow stronger than larvae that have just eaten. Even cannibalism can occur when population densities are really high.

The glowing itself is the result of a complex chemical reaction that involves luciferin, the enzyme that acts upon luciferin, adenosine triphosphate, an energy molecule and oxygen. It occurs in modified excretory organs known as Malpighian tubules in the abdomen.

These long exposure photos were taken by Joseph Michael, who captured these stunning worm amongst 30 million-year-old limestone formations on North Island. You can see more shots from the project titled Luminosity, here.

 

Reprinted with permission from ZMEScience

 

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