About Glow Worms
Below are some interesting facts about Glow Worms. These facts are just some of the things you'll learn about when you go for a glow worm tour through the caves.
We hope to see you soon and look forward to teaching you more about Glow Worms. Tours through the Caves (where you will see living Glow Worms) leave every 30 minutes from the ticket office.
Lifecycle of a Glow Worm:
The Glow Worm goes through a holometabolic life cycle; a whole transformation from egg to larva, to pupa, to adult (pictured below). The Glow Worms in this cave are the local species, Arachnocampa flava, which are found only in rainforest areas of southeast Queensland.
What are Glow Worms?
Glow Worms are the larvae (immature stage) of a small fly. The larval stage is the only stage in their life cycle that can glow. The adults are delicate flies that do not have working mouthparts, and as such, only live for a small number of days (females two days, males six days). As the adults are unable to feed, Glow Worms must gain enough sustenance during the larval stage to get them through the rest of their lifecycle. The larvae are believed to live for approximately one year, although this is heavily dependent on environmental conditions and availability of food.
Why do Glow Worms glow?
Glow Worms glow to attract small insects that emerge from the leaf litter and water to where the Glow Worms reside. The Glow Worms construct "snares" (like a spider's web) made from silk threads and sticky droplets to capture and eat the insects attracted to their glow, which they then feed on.
How Do Glow Worms Glow?
The light of a glow worm is also known as bioluminescence or light produced by a living organism. There are many different animals which have bioluminescent properties including:
- Fireflies, glow worms and other insect larvae
- Arachnids (spiders)
- Annelids (ringed worms)
- Some deep sea fish and squid
- And certain varieties of bacteria and fungi
In the case of glow worms the light they emit is produced by a chemical reaction. A pigment called "luciferin" reacts with the enzyme "luciferase" and adenosine triphosphate (also called ATP*) and with the oxygen in the air to create the blue-green light that you see the glow worms emitting in the glow worm caves.
All images on this page are copyright to Anthony O'Toole.
Written permission must be gained before use.
* ATP molecules are found in all living cells. ATP molecules make any energy consuming actions (running, jumping, moving fingers etc) possible by storing the energy obtained by food and releasing it when needed. ATP is a necessary part of the reaction needed to create the light a glow worm produces.