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Glowworms in Tasmania

Well, my last post (from Japan) was about the firefly, so it is quite fitting that my first post back in Tasmania features some more “life that glows” –  the glow worm!

glow worms tasmania

Glow Worms in a cave in Tasmania. 2 minute exposure. The glow to the eye is really like the stars at night. A long exposure, with high ISO captures a very beautiful blue.

glow worms tasmania

Glow worms. The light in the image is natural light from the cave entrance which was only 20-30 metres away.

glow worms tasmania

A crop of the image above shows the sticky strands of web the glow worms use to catch prey

Glow worms are not worms, they are the larval stage of a kind of gnat. They emit the light when they want to attract their prey – which is basically small insects – who then get ensnared in a long sticky string, like a spiders web. They need sheltered, dark and moist environments to survive. Caves with water are a perfect habitat.

glow worm cave tasmania

The glow worms in their habitat

Tasmanian Cave Spider

Glow worms aren’t the only inhabitant of caves in Tasmania. Living side by side in this particular cave were a great many specimens of the Tasmanian Cave Spider! The female in particular is very large and a perfect stereotypical terrifying spider – imagine crawling about in the dark thinking there could be dozens of these things crawling on the walls and ceiling all around you…

tasmanian cave spider

The Tasmanian Cave Spider (female)

tasmanian cave spider egg sac

The cave spiders egg sac

Where to see glowworms in Tasmania

Glow worms are found in Australia and New Zealand, with the Tasmanian species called Arachnocampa tasmaniensis. The best display is at Mole Creek Caves (Marakoopa) and there are regular guided tours there. Note – there is no photography allowed of the glow worms at Marakoopa – in particular no flash or tripods are allowed. I will not be disclosing the location of the glow worms in this particular post due to destructive behaviour by some in the pursuit of images for social media.


Disgraceful behaviour by some means locations need to be protected

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About Luke

Luke O'Brien runs a stall at Hobart's popular Salamanca Market every Saturday where his prints and cards are available for purchase. Follow Luke's photographic adventures on Twitter at @lukeobrienphoto, at his Facebook page or by subscribing to his email newsletter.