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Helping glow-worms shine in Purbeck

A close up of a glow worm showing the insect and its glow
Glow-worm | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

In July and August, we asked people to help wildlife recover in Purbeck by recording sightings of glow-worms.

Data gathered from our annual monitoring programme will help us find ways to encourage this iconic species to spread across Purbeck.

These small beetles, which light up the hedgerows in July and August, were once common across the country, but have seriously declined in the south over recent years.

Mark Singleton, Countryside Manager for Purbeck, said:

“Seeing glow-worms is a magical experience, but one that is becoming increasingly rare. The first step in helping their populations recover is mapping out exactly where the glow-worms are. Then we can work to join up the pockets of scrubland where they still survive to create a bigger and better landscape where glow-worms and other wildlife can spread and thrive.”

Who’s the brightest beetle?

Glow-worms have a fascinating life cycle. The larvae can live for up to three years, feeding on snails. The adult beetles only live for a few weeks and don’t feed at all – all their energy is spent on mating. Although the eggs, larvae and adult males all glow, it’s the adult females who shine the brightest. They crawl up vegetation on warm evenings and emit their yellow-green light to attract males.

Don’t let the lights go out

We will be coordinating an annual monitoring project in partnership with the Purbeck Natural History Forum and Durlston Country Park. If you are interested in taking part next year, you'll need to join the Purbeck Natural History Forum

Or you can do informal recordings on iRecord. This app allows anyone to record wildlife sightings which can be added to a national database, making a real contribution to science and conservation. Sign up for iRecord here

Mark added: “It’s unclear exactly why glow-worm numbers are plummeting, but habitat loss and the use of pesticides are likely reasons. Working with our tenant farmers and partners, we want to manage the land in Purbeck without chemicals, and so give nature a chance to recover.”