Glow-worm, Arachnocampa luminosa
Unlike the European beetle of the same name, this species is actually a kind of gnat native to New Zealand that is especially fascinating in its larval form, although the larval, pupal and adult stages of the insect all glow. But as larva, the glow-worms suspend themselves from the ceilings, walls and stalactites of limestone caves and cast out “fishing lines” made of silk and mucous droplets that look like strings of brilliant, reflective beads. A single larvae will let down as many as 70 lines. Insects get caught on the lines and are reeled in by the larva to be eaten. While the materials and purpose of the lines may sound gross, a cave full of the glow-worm’s shimmering lines is quite the spectacle to behold.
There’s a close-up of the larva itself behind the cut. It’s not as pretty as its fishing lines, believe me.