MOUNT BUFFALO GLOW-WORM - Arachnocampa buffaloensis.
GLOWWORMS AT MOUNT BUFFALO
There are glowworms in the underground river cave at Mount Buffalo that are a species that exist nowhere else. The following is an extract regarding the Mount Buffalo glowworm
Arachnocampa buffaloensis. A colony of
Arachnocampa has been found in an alpine cave on Mount Buffalo in Victoria. Early research suggests it is a new species, but related to
A. tasmaniensis and the New Zealand species,
A. luminosa. Its presence suggests rainforest may have extended up the mountain in the past. The Victorian Government presently has it listed (called the Mount Buffalo glow-worm) as a threatened species.
The Underground River Cave is too dangerous to enter without experience and the proper equipment (Helmets and Lights etc).
Adventure Guides Australia conduct regular adventures into this cave - see the activities pages. As glowworms are a rainforest species and this population seems to have survived on the mountain since past times when these ancient forests used to cover the area and it was no doubt much wetter and with a higher humidity. Perhaps they have survived from the days of the dinosaurs. The underground river stream cave is the last place on mount buffalo that has the wet dark and insect laden environment that these creatures need to survive. They are listed as an endangered species by the Government.
SOME INFORMATION ON GLOWWORMS
Glow-worms are the larvae of a fly from the family Keroplatidae. Their closest relatives are the fungus flies that seek out mushrooms for their larvae to consume. Glow-worms have gone out on an evolutionary limb, albeit a successful one. They have lost their association with fungi and have instead become carnivorous. The unique feature of glow-worms is their ability to bioluminesce (to produce light). Because they are not very mobile the larvae must trap insects in their webs, much like spiders, and they use light to bait the trap. The larvae prey on flying insects, mostly small flies that are attracted to the bioluminescence. The larvae build a structure composed of a horizontal mucous tube suspended by a network of threads from the earth or rock substrate. The larva moves back and forwards in the tube and can turn in its own length. The larvae spend a considerable amount of time maintaining their snares which are the many fine silken fishing lines that hang downwards, decorated by periodically placed sticky droplets. Flying insects are caught in the
droplets and hauled up for consumption by the voracious larvae. In caves where the airflow is gentle the snares can reach 50 cm in length. In rainforests where they are exposed to stronger air movement they are usually only 5 cm or so long.
(Extract from Australian Glow-worms in Caves By David Merritt & Claire Baker School of Life Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072)