Sunday, 26 June 2016

#30DaysWild day 26: Glowing in the rain

It's not very often we set off on one of our adventures as late as 10pm, so we were excited to be meeting up with a group from the Chiltern Society last night to search for glow-worms. Brush Hill is only about a mile up the road and is one of several local sites where they can be found (we found them there last year). It was a lovely evening, so we left home wearing fleeces, but no coats and met up for hot chocolate and marshmallows before we started our search.

Within about 5 minutes of getting there it started to rain, then pour. We grabbed spare raincoats and umbrellas and sheltered under the trees, hoping it would quickly pass. It didn't! In fact it got heavier! It looked like we were in for a soggy evening!

There would be no bats swooping through the breaks in the trees, owls calling or foxes barking tonight (or at least not that we'd be able to hear). We walked through the woods to the chalk grassland slope and could see the edge of the huge black raincloud that was sitting over the top of us.

John Tyler, our glow-worm expert, gave us a talk about glow-worms, but it was mostly drowned out by the thundering rain on the beech leaves. We were all starting to wonder whether this was such a good idea after all, but the biggest question on our minds was would the glow-worms still glow in the rain. John insisted they would, in fact they often glow brighter as the wimpy male glow-worms hide away from the rain, so the females have to try even harder to try and attract them. I have to say that nobody seemed terribly convinced, but we all stuck with it and started to search through the grass.

Starting to think we must all be mad
Eventually somebody spotted a bright green glow near the ground. We'd found our first glow-worm of the night!

Glow worms are beetles from the firefly family and 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 eating slugs and snails, 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.

Bug Mad Girl was determined to find one herself, so headed off into the long grass, oblivious to the torrential rain. Her perseverance paid off and I soon heard her squeals of delight as she spotted one.

Found one!
The group found about 8 glow-worms in the end, which was not a bad total for such an awful night. Bug Mad Girl was over the moon to find her one herself, but agreed it was time to go home and get dry soon afterwards.

No comments:

Post a Comment