Those present during the Wildlife Gardeners Question time segment of our First Knoll Gardens Foundation Community Lecture would have heard Nick Dobbs mention that he had recently seen glow worm lavae in Knoll Gardens.
Nick is overseeing our reptile surveys at Knoll and has kindly provided some words and pictures for our benefit (below)
Lampyris noctiluca is the glow-worm species most often seen in the UK. These nocturnal beetles, known as common glow-worms, are found across Europe and Asia. It can be tricky to tell common glow-worm females and larvae apart, as they both have similar-looking segmented bodies. But the larvae have distinct reddish spots on the outside edges of each segment, which don’t occur on adult females.
Good for gardeners, the larvae prey on snails. Adults don’t eat anything.
Males can fly and are distinguishable from females by the hard wing case covering their bodies and their far smaller size. Adult female glow-worms have a large, light-producing organ at the end of their abdomens. At night they use a bright, steady stream of yellowish-green light to attract flying males. During the day they burrow underground to avoid predators.
A female will climb to a high point, such as a grass stem, and turn her glowing light upwards. This ensures that she is as visible as possible to flying males. Adult female grow up to 20mm in length, and live for a few weeks, until they mate and lay their eggs.
Their lights are bioluminescent – the natural production of light by an organism created by a chemical reaction.
Our thanks to Nick Dobbs