Spectacular photos capture the wondrous luminosity caves in New Zealand, where thousands of tiny animals glow like stars

Glowing Worms New Zealand 10

Deep in the limestone caves of New Zealand rest colonies of glow worms that emit a blue-green light strong enough to illuminate the caves they live in.

These wonderful yet strange creatures are called arachnocampa luminosa. They’re native to a northern part of the country called North Island.

Auckland photographer Joseph Michael documented the awe-striking creatures, which live in caves said to be as ancient as 30 million years old, by spending countless hours in the caves’ ice-cold water.

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#glow-worms-are-actually-the-larvae-of-the-fungus-gnat-a-type-of-fly-that-resembles-a-mosquito-1″
title=”Glow worms are actually the larvae of the fungus gnat, a type of fly that resembles a mosquito.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a9328b2acae78b0e8b782d”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-glow-worms-are-found-only-in-new-zealand-and-eastern-australia-the-australian-worms-have-smaller-lights-and-tend-to-stay-in-smaller-groups-2″
title=”The glow worms are found only in New Zealand and eastern Australia. The Australian worms have smaller lights and tend to stay in smaller groups.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932862acae74c2f8b533f”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-first-part-of-the-species-name-arachnocampa-means-spider-worm-and-refers-to-the-web-of-silk-threads-the-worms-use-to-snatch-their-prey-3″
title=”The first part of the species’ name, Arachnocampa, means ‘spider worm,’ and refers to the web of silk threads the worms use to snatch their prey.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a9328d2acae70f008b7a94″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-roofs-of-caves-make-great-homes-for-the-larvae-which-often-reside-side-by-side-in-groups-of-hundreds-because-of-their-damp-sheltered-surface-4″
title=”The roofs of caves make great homes for the larvae, which often reside side-by-side in groups of hundreds, because of their damp, sheltered surface.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932862acae7c23f8b5247″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-worms-glowing-light-helps-them-attract-their-food–other-insects-5″
title=”The worms’ glowing light helps them attract their food — other insects.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932902acae719008b79e5″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#many-other-animals-are-also-bioluminescent-meaning-they-make-light-the-trait-which-can-be-used-to-fend-off-predators-snatch-prey-and-lure-mates-is-so-useful-that-its-evolved-independently-at-least-40-times-most-bioluminescent-creatures-live-in-the-ocean-where-their-glimmers-are-often-the-sole-source-of-light-6″
title=”Many other animals are also bioluminescent, meaning they make light. The trait, which can be used to fend off predators, snatch prey, and lure mates is so useful that it’s evolved independently at least 40 times. Most bioluminescent creatures live in the ocean, where their glimmers are often the sole source of light.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932862acae70f008b7a93″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#if-light-makes-its-way-into-the-cave-the-glowworms-are-rendered-invisible-to-the-human-eye-7″
title=”If light makes its way into the cave, the glowworms are rendered invisible to the human eye.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a9328a2acae710008b7ae5″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-insects-are-active-at-night-many-observers-have-described-the-experience-of-visiting-the-glow-worms-at-night-as-similar-to-being-under-the-stars-on-a-clear-night-8″
title=”The insects are active at night. Many observers have described the experience of visiting the glow worms at night as similar to being under the stars on a clear night.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932902acae711008b79f2″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#if-the-insects-feel-interrupted-they-can-switch-off-their-bioluminescence-in-the-presence-of-torchlight-smoke-or-insect-repellant-for-example-they-have-been-known-to-temporarily-go-dark-typically-for-as-long-as-15-minutes-at-a-time-9″
title=”If the insects feel interrupted, they can switch off their bioluminescence. In the presence of torchlight, smoke, or insect repellent, for example, they have been known to temporarily go dark, typically for as long as 15 minutes at a time.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932852acae716008b7a39″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-glowworms-beauty-is-fleeting-they-live-just-long-enough-to-mate-and-lay-eggs-1111110″
title=”The glowworms’ beauty is fleeting: They live just long enough to mate and lay eggs.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932872acae7c7018b790f”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-eggs-hatch-into-larvae-and-then-pupate-into-adult-flies-glowworms-spend-most-of-its-life-as-larvae-however-between-6-and-12-months-depending-on-how-much-food-is-available-1111111″
title=”The eggs hatch into larvae and then pupate into adult flies. Glowworms spend most of its life as larvae, however: between 6 and 12 months, depending on how much food is available.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a932872acae7f4028b79f3″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-larvae-are-entirely-soft-except-the-head-capsule-and-when-they-outgrow-this-portion-of-their-shell-they-moult-shedding-their-skin-this-happens-repeatedly-during-their-lifecycle-1111112″
title=”The larvae are entirely soft except the head capsule, and when they outgrow this portion of their shell they moult, shedding their skin. This happens repeatedly during their lifecycle.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a9328d2acae716008b7a3a”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#at-the-end-of-the-larva-stage-the-insect-turns-into-a-pupa-and-hangs-from-the-cave-roof-on-a-short-thread-for-about-1-2-weeks-glowing-intermittently-while-the-male-pupae-get-progressively-dimmer-the-female-pupae-get-progressively-brighter-1111113″
title=”At the end of the larva stage, the insect turns into a pupa and hangs from the cave roof on a short thread for about 1-2 weeks, glowing intermittently. While the male pupae get progressively dimmer, the female pupae get progressively brighter.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a9328f2acae732118b76d3″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#adult-glowworms-dont-fly-well-as-a-result-they-often-stick-to-the-same-geological-area-building-colonies-111114″
title=”Adult glowworms don’t fly well. As a result, they often stick to the same geological area, building colonies.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a9328e2acae7c7018b7910″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#female-glowworms-lay-roughly-130-eggs-and-die-soon-afterwards-about-3-weeks-later-the-eggs-hatch-and-the-cycle-repeats-111115″
title=”Female glowworms lay roughly 130 eggs and die soon afterwards. About 3 weeks later, the eggs hatch and the cycle repeats.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55a9328c2acae717448b522d”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.joemichael.co.nz/photography/#/luminosity/”
]
[/slideshow]