Despite what the name suggests, glowworms aren’t true worms – they’re the larval stage of the fungus gnat. The fungus gnat can glow at all stages of its life (except in the egg stage), but it’s during the larval stage that it shines the brightest. The famous blue-green ‘glow’ is a chemical reaction created in what is the glowworm equivalent of the human kidney. The total life cycle of the fungus gnat takes around 11 months, with the glowworm stage being the longest in the life cycle, averaging around nine months.
The New Zealand native glowworm is scientifically known as Arachnocampa luminosa, and although it is most spectacular when seen in caves, it’s common outside caves too, favouring damp, warm conditions with a good supply of food.
The photographs featured on these stamps have been taken by New Zealand photographer Joseph Michael, whose Luminosity series came to global attention in 2015. These stunning photographs were taken using long exposure techniques and were shot over many long nights deep in the glowworm caves of the North Island.
This visually striking stamp issue features four gummed stamps as well as a $2.00 self-adhesive stamp. The stamps have been printed using glow-in-the-dark ink to replicate the effect of glowworms in the wild – simply expose them to sunlight and then step into a dark space to see the stamps light up.