How do glow-worms glow?!
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Glow-worm Campaign 2012 - a little light is disappearing
Throughout the summer of 2012, DWT asked for your support to help one of our countryside’s most charismatic creatures: the glow-worm.
We asked you to tell us if, when and where you last saw glow-worms.
Our aim was to obtain a more accurate picture of how this enchanting species was faring and to understand the factors affecting population decline.
Your response was wonderful.
In 1999 a similar request led to just under a 100 responses. But last year’s survey yielded a magnificent 389 replies. Of this number 236 had spotted a glow-worm in Devon.
So, does this suggest that glow-worms are doing better in the county than a decade or so ago? The answer is, sadly, probably not.
Glow-worm populations are thought to be struggling here and throughout the rest of England. The reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, but a combination of land use changes, pesticide use and even light pollution have been put forward as causes.
Instead, the large response to our survey may have reflected the excellent coverage that DWT’s glow-worm campaign received. Coverage on BBC Radio 4 and BBC TV’s Spotlight programme combined with newspaper articles and glow-worm events run by DWT Local Groups, to provide the insect with a lot of publicity.
In short, during 2012 Devon warmed to the plight (and light) of the glow-worm!
As a result of the campaign, many more glow-worm populations are now known to Devon Biodiversity Records Centre – the keepers of the county’s wildlife records.
This means the fortunes of the insect can be tracked with much more certainty in the future. Furthermore, the Parish Council from each Devon parish in which DWT received a glow-worm sighting will be provided with a brief guide providing them with a series of tips on how they can ensure that glow-worms remain a beautiful, shining part of their summer landscape.
Click here to download a copy of our guide to caring for glow-worms
Thank you to all who took part in the survey. Your sightings are vital to help the conservation of the glow-worm. Please keep a look out for glow-worms, send any future sightings to the national survey at www.glowworms.org.uk
What to look for, when and where
Populations of glow-worms remain, scattered round Devon, and where they exist they continue to offer one of the most enchanting of all summer wildlife watching experiences. Anyone who has ever seen a glow-worm will remember the experience.
Adult glow-worms are brown-coloured beetles which measure up to 25mm
- Female glow-worms give off a green-yellow phosphorescent light to attract a mate – it’s this glow which makes spotting easy and fun
- The glow-worm’s glow can be seen after dark from May through to September, with a peak of activity in July
- Glow-worms prefer long grass - footpath edges, road verges, gardens and hedgerows are good places to look
- If you see a glow-worm leave it where it is for others to enjoy
Glow-worm spotting updates
On 28 June Bryan and Rita Price, from Barnstaple DWT Local Group reported back: ‘The glow worm walk went well on the Tarka Trail. We had a dozen or so people attend. Sadly we only managed to see four glowworms but the girls were in good form and showing off very brightly. We had a close look at one of them and we were all amazed. So numbers are down from previous years I do believe.’
- On June 28 Stephen Hussey, DWT’s Communications Coordinator, said: ‘Great glow-worm spotting at DWT's Bystock nature reserve last night. 25-30 of the wonderful critters, nightjars too! Chris Sperring from Radio 4's Saving Species joined us. The programme will broadcast in Sept.’
Glow-worms in schools
Thanks to DWT’s glow-worm campaign more than 2,500 school children (plus staff) now know a lot more about glow-worms. Many children thought glow worms were not real creatures, let alone that they lived in Devon. 15 assemblies were organised at local schools to raise awareness of this spectacular creature and the need to keep an eye out for it. In addition a glow-worm art and poem competition was launched, results to be announced in the next edition of Network News. See the Wildlife Champions blog for further details.