We got out onto the hill at about 10pm, just as it was getting dark. The view was even more amazing in the twilight, with Princes Risborough at the bottom the hill and the lights of Aylesbury, Oxford and Didcot off in the distance.
We split into two groups and started searching for the green light emitted by the female glow worms. They were quite hard to spot as they were low down in the grass and you had to be almost on top of them to see them. When we'd found the first one, we at least knew what we were looking for and soon found more, even though it involved quite a lot of crashing around in the dark.
Glow worms are actually beetles from the firefly family. It's only the female that produces the green light, from the last few segments of her abdomen. She's completely wingless, so glows to attract the smaller, winged males. She spends two years as a larvae, then pupates in a burrow in the ground emerging in June or July. She climbs out of the burrow, glows, mates then crawls back into the burrow to lay her eggs. She dies soon afterwards and is only an adult glow worm for about a week.
|Female glow worm|
|Mating glow worms|
|3 winged male glow worms and one larger female (with one wing)|
|Hermaphrodite glow worm|
What an adventure!
We left the moth trap out overnight and checked it first thing in the morning (still in pyjamas!)
It was full of moths, but we also found a male glow worm in it. I think we would have just thought it was a little black beetle if we hadn't seen them the night before. It's exciting to think there are glow worms in our back garden!
|Male glow worm from the moth trap|
There were no hawk moths in the trap this time, but there were lots of moths again, some with rather spectacular hair! Our totals for the night were 3 dark arches, 2 common white waves, 5 riband waves, 2 brimstone moths, 1 common wainscot, 1 white ermine, 1 burnished brass, 1 the flame, 1 yellow underwing, 21 heart and darts, 1 clouded silver, 1 mottled beauty, 1 Hebrew character, 1 small magpie, 1 spectacle, 1 small fan foot, 1 reddish light arches and about 15 small brown ones (that I haven't identified).
|The Spectacle is one cool dude! Love his spiky hair do and glasses|
|The Spectacle from side on|
|Burnished Brass - another great hairstyle!|
|We also caught two shield bugs|
|This cheeky robin was looking for an easy feast|