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A Year Around The World

Glow Maggots

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 13 February 2015 | Views [417]

Fun Fact: The Kiwifruit was originally known as the Chinese Gooseberry. It originated in northern China, not New Zealand. In fact, New Zealand isn’t even the world’s top producer of Kiwifruit. That title goes to Italy. The name Kiwifruit was adopted as a marketing ploy by a California fruit importer in the late 1940’s in order to make the fruit sound more palatable to consumers unfamiliar with the furry brown nugget. A similar marketing strategy was employed for Chilean Sea Bass, which was originally named Patagonian Toothfish, and another Red Lobster standby, Orange Roughy, which was originally known as Slimehead.


I bring all of this up because yesterday evening I took a boat across Lake Te Anau to visit the world famous Te Anau Glow Worm Cave. Glow worms are impressive creatures. They latch themselves onto the ceilings of tunnels and caverns, illuminating the otherwise lightless interiors with a form of phosphorescent goo. The glow put off by the goo attracts small insects who get trapped in sticky snare lines also produced by the worms. The worms then consume the hapless bugs. Of course none of the stickiness, death and consumption is actually visible when you visit the caves. To the humans below them, the glowing spots appear as soft green stars dappled across an ink black sky. It’s really a beautiful site and well worth seeing if you’re ever in this part of the world. 


However, the glow worms do have a sneaky little secret. They are not worms at all. In fact, they are actually the larval stage of a species of fly. And what do we commonly call larval flies? No. Not fly babies and certainly not worms. We call them Maggots. Those wriggly white disgusting little grubs that feast on all things rotting, from garbage to human flesh. So Glow Worms are really Glow Maggots. Now, Glow Maggots just don’t have the same cutesy appeal of Glow Worms, and I can only guess that at some point some marketing guru figured out that a cute name meant more tourists and more money. 


Prior to the Glow Worm cruise, we’d spent about a week in the magnificent area stretching between Queenstown and Fjordland National Park. I’d hiked portions or the amazing Milford track and the impressive Kepler track. For all of you Lord of the Rings Fans (of which I cannot count myself one), we stumbled upon several filming locations from the epic trilogy. 


I’ve now reached my final week in New Zealand. As I write this, I’m on the Otago Peninsula near the southeast coastal city of Dunedin. During the next few days I hope to see some of the stunning sea area life this region have to offer, including penguins, seals and albatrosses. I don’t know for sure, but I do suspect that the mighty albatross might also be benefitting from a marketing name. Albatross certainly sounds far more majestic than “extremely large Seagull,” which is all that Albatross truly is.

Tags: cave, dunedin, fjordland, glow worms, kepler, lord of the rings, milford, otago, te anua


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