In a previous post about wildlife cave play, I suggested you investigate a wildlife habitat at home if you couldn’t get to one easily. Well, we finally followed up on our cave lesson by visiting a cave; it wasn’t a real cave, but an artificial one. I hope that still counts? It was dark, it echoed, it had dripping water, it had stalactites and stalagmites, but best of all, it had those little creatures that shine light from their bottoms!
Visiting a glow worm cave is a fascinating experience. Firstly, it allows children to get up-close to the little larvae and see them in proportion (I honesty thought they were the size of an earthworm); it encourages wonderful scientific discussions about their glowing butt and it allows children to experience an unusual type of wildlife species.
Glow worm facts:
- Glow worms are not worms but are the larvae stage of a large mosquito-like fly.
- Larvae create an elaborate vertical-hanging trap of threaded mucus drops to snare small insects like midges and fruit flies.
- They like to inhabit well protected, shaded and humid locations such as caves and rock ledges.
- Their bums glow as a result of a chemical reaction between body products and oxygen in the enlarged tips of the larvae’s excretory tubes. Yep, pretty gross, right?
- Glow worms, believe it or not, co-exist well with spiders. Spiders tend to make their webs near or around the glow worms and they capture large insects before they collide with glow-worms and their webs.
Before visiting, ask your child these questions:
- What is a glow worm?
- Why do they glow?
- What do they eat?
- How do they make their web?
- Where do they live?
See if your child can answer these questions after your visit as well.
Follow up ideas:
- If you haven’t already made a cave and created glow worms, do. We had great fun!
- Learn more in-depth information about the chemicals that cause their bottoms to glow.
Visiting a glow worm cave can be a stand-alone activity or you can include it with many other learning opportunities. To protect the little creatures and keep them glowing their brightest for other visitors (they can turn their glow off if something brighter comes along) we weren’t able to take any photographs. Thanks to Cedar Creek Estate for supplying the photo of the glow worm webs.
Where’s your local glow-worm cave?