Introduction: Collecting Anurida Granaria Collembola & Testing for Bioluminescence..

For fun educational purposes.

Step 1: Introducing Anurida Granaria, the Bioluminescent Collembola From New Zealand....

Here in Christchurch New Zealand at our place, innumerable tiny nocturnal bioluminescent anurida granaria live in abundance. They are a worldwide collembola & are about 2mm long.

Step 2: Collecting Anurida Granaria With Aspirator.

Sometimes I collect these collembola to test for bioluminescence, prior to sending to a friend or researcher, using an easy to make insect aspirator, which places them in an extreme hurricane situation, in which they land with a thud at the end, unless of course you have some water in there...

Step 3: ... or Brush

...but more often, I use a very soft fluffy brush made from my friend Bert's fur,.. I gained her permission. (& sometimes another similar, though not quite so soft & ticklish a brush, from another friend called Fred)

Step 4: ... 'the Brush'

...which I made using a branch off an ake-ake quaked tree which died at our place. One end is large & extremely soft for 'dry-sweeping' a host of anurida (or whatever) into a container & a fine pointy end for single anurida 'pick-ups' (e.g. into a test tube etc.)

The latter brush is used with the tip dipped in water enabling any tiny ones to adhere to it for a short time, giving you time to transfer them.

One end of the handle has a hole for changing brush types. A dark fine tip for light coloured creatures & a light coloured tip for dark ones.

Step 5: .. a Black Container & Sweeping a Brick,

Gently as possible, I sweep them off red house bricks I have already laid down, into a black plastic food container so they can be readily seen. At the base I lay one thickness of dark coloured newspaper ( so that they stand out ) that is dampened, so that they don't desiccate & die.

Step 6: ... Yeast,seaweed & Humus,

Under the bricks where they live, I sprinkle sifted dry humous, which has a handful of powdered seaweed ( which I collect, dry & crush normally for sprinkling over food) & an eggcup of yeast mixed in with it. I found this attracts more to live under a brick than if it is simply bare soil.

I imagine they would nibble at most natural decomposting vegetable matter. It disappears quickly when under bricks, logs & boards as nearby plant or tree roots endeavour to grab a free feed.

Step 7: ... Bricks, 'fed' & at the Ready,

The red bricks I have laid out, are lying on the ground & kept damp with hosing when the surrounding soil begins to dry out.

Step 8: .. Test Tube - Brush - Filterpaper,

Refer to the 1st picture of anurida granaria to become familiar with their cuddly shape. It will not be long before you will recognise them straight away.

Once you have collected a few of what you think looks like cream coloured anurida granaria, you can take them inside to a darker environment in an attempt to prove it. (they exhibit negative phototaxis: = they don't enjoy light!) Place each individual into a seperate test tube for the 'glowing' test phase. Working away from the sunlight means they wont be so alarmed. The test tubes must be ready, preferably in a stand where each test tube with its collembola can be removed without disturbing others during the glowing test.

A small 5mm x 5mm size (or thereabouts) cut out piece of clean sterile coffee-filter paper (which can be bought from your local supermarket) is placed in the bottom of the test tube with a wet small brush. (using sterilised
water – cooled water from your kettle)

It pays to take time to make its shape conform to the curvature of the test tube base. As it is now wet, this isn't too difficult.

Keep these test tubes handy to you in a cup or similar.

Step 9: ... Ag on Brush Tip,

The narrow end of a small soft artist brush that has had the tip dipped in water (so they will temporarily adhere to it) is now used to lift or extract, (by careful touch) each individual from the black plastic food container..carefully!

Damaged anurida will not be happy glowies & if touched too roughly, will probably die.

Trust me here! Mind you, a fine brush not quite applied correctly,may simply tickle them (:->)

The wet brush tip will make it temporarily adhere in time for you to put it inside the test tube, about 1&1/2 inches (40mm or so) & use your fingernail to ever so slightly catch on the wooden handle which will make the brush jar against the test tube rim enough to dislodge anurida granaria off the brush & into the test tube.

(It is easy to practise this beforehand, with any tiny wood-chip or leaf debris)

Place the test tube in the stand & have a dark cloth to cover the whole stand for the time being or better still, a cardboard box. Repeat for each collembola.

Step 10: ... the 'Lab',

When all have been administered to & the test tubes placed in the stand for them, the entire test tube stand needs to be left in a very dark quiet place so that they may now get some peace & quiet before you disturb them all over again.

In the garage 'lab' photo above, you will see I have a custom made cardboard box with a wooden handle, to slip over the test tube stand. Also that room is totally,... well,... 99% blacked out & very well memorised so that I may move around & know where everything is, with total confidence, in total darkness.

Step 11: .. Doing the T/T (test Tube) Rap,

Testing for bioluminescence:- Around 3 hours after sunset, venture forth into your lab for the glowing test. To adjust the eyes to seeing better in the dark, take a flask in with you, (not a book) as it is advisable to wait for 10 minutes. Slowly & quietly remove the test tube cover & quietly remove one test tube.

Then rap it firmlydown on top of a solid object to alarm anurida granaria. (I use the vice) This will activate their alarm response of bioluminescence.

Step 12: ... Plastic-boxes As a T/tube Holder,

Hold it close to your eyes, twisting the test tube round & round in case a view of the bioluminescence is obscured by the paper. If it glows, place the tube in one of the containers.

( Cool huh? An unforgettable moment in your life to treasure forever )

If it does not light up or you are at all unsure, use the other container. As long as the containers are separated.

When all tubes have been tested, the ones that failed the certainty test can be re-tested. There are usually a few that pass this time. Further testing, I'm sure, will only aggravate ag & provide severe headaches if not most permanent brain damage.

The rest can be released into your garden when you have finished.

Step 13: ... Emptying the Successful Bioluminescent Ag Finalists Into a Black Cup,

The room lights are then turned on & the successful participants in this test go on to the finals, to be emptied out unceremoniously, into a black container or cup.

Care has to be taken here so that no ag adhere to the test tube's inside or are hidden by the filter paper when it drops out of the tubes.

A fine pair of lengthy pointy tweezers comes in handy here for both-sides paper checking, of course.

It can be tricky when the filter paper & anurida are of similar colour. There is no harm in using a small piece of dark newspaper for your personal enjoyment tests. That would make the task easier.

Step 14: .... the 'Jewel Box' With Damp Peat or Potting Mix.

From there they are tipped into a container of damp fine potting mix for studying or whatever.

There are ongoing difficutlies breeding anurida granaria. Mostly they seem to fizzle out after a year or so & as their particular diet has not been firmly ascertained with any degree of certainty, (they have rasping type mouthparts) anurida continues to baffle.

They live amongst other collembola of the same colour.

Their alarm response is to immediately produce their glow of bioluminescence, but is it used for reproduction and/or aggregation somehow, also? Why would they bother. Perhaps they are able to sense their glow somehow. But still, they are blind.

I usually lift the lid of any anurida granaria container, large or small, twice a day & with a small piece of cardboard, fan the old air out & new air in, just in case of co2 built-up.

Well...if they're going to present us with such brilliant excitement, why not return the favour. Are they not like a breath of fresh air?


I first uncovered anurida granaria as many tiny sparks briefly glowing when disturbed, under a pile of wooden rubbish I was shifting 9 o'clock one night under moonlight, at my friend Alan Robert Wright's place, back in the late 1980s. Snowy, our dog is stqndingBack then we were renting from him, now, thanks to him, we live here with uncountable millions of ag friends (& cave wetas!) A special thanks to Terrence A. Lynch, Naturalist, Artist and Photographer, lover of things which glow,for building a web site for our glowing friends at no cost to anyone but himself & for initially, very patiently, explaining to me how to go about collecting, isolating & testing anurida granaria for bioluminescence, here in South Brighton, Christchurch, New Zealand, from over the Internet.

Everything here in this instructable is for fun & educational purposes.

anurida granarias' site, - Project GEO:

I don't have the photographic skills & equipment for capturing an anurida granaria glowing on its own, though perhaps I can take an amateur video of them glowing en masse & post here on sometime. The next endeavour, ... all things being equal. ( 'anurida granaria's bioluminescence')

Ahuge thanks to the team for making this happen for everyone.

Make It Glow! Contest

Participated in the
Make It Glow! Contest