Glowworms are up there as some of the animal kingdom's prettiest and twinkliest. But despite their naturally photogenic qualities, they can be a real pain to actually photograph.
This stunning time-lapse video of New Zealand glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa) shows that, sometimes, hours and hours of perseverance are well worth it. The 4K video was shot by Canadian Jordan Poste in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in North Island, New Zealand.
On his blog “Stoked For Saturday,” Poste tells the story of how he captured this footage. With an array of battery failures and technical errors, the project took a total of 60 hours hanging out in pitch black caves with just his cameras and an air mattress to nap on.
As Jordan explains on the blog, just 10 seconds of this footage can take over 2.5 hours to shoot. Each frame can take an exposure time between 30 seconds to 30 minutes, with each sequence using 300 frames. As Wired reports, that is around 3,000 frames for the whole 1.5-minute long video.
These New Zealand glowworms aren’t actually worms, but instead are a larval form of a fungus gnat. Those gloopy icicles you can see in the video are actually hanging drops of sticky mucus that the larvae use to catch prey. Their hypnotizing, glowing tail is used to lure in their prey, which includes a selection moths and flies. Although it’s also believed the larvae use their glow to put off some animals from eating them.
Unfortunately, the fun is over once they finish their 9-month larval stage and become an adult fly. Not only do they lose their flickering light, they don’t even have a mouth or digestive system. As such, they only live for a few days, spending most of this time mating and laying eggs. Such is life.