Glow worm colony is tripping the light fantastic

Glow worm
Glow worm
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A colony of glow worms spotted on the canal in Dacorum has sparked a regional campaign urging wildlife lovers to record their sightings of the insects.

Now that the group of bright bugs has been seen on the Grand Union Canal in Hemel Hempstead, The Canal & River Trust is appealing for eagle-eyed spotters to report sightings as part of this year’s Great Nature Watch.

Their aim is to gather this data and get a better idea of where the species can be found, ensuring that they’re protected in coming years.

Despite their common name, glow worms are actually beetles and can be spotted throughout the summer months as the flightless females climb tall blades of grass at night and light up to attract a winged male to mate with.

Once they’ve found a partner, the females stop glowing and return to the ground to lay their eggs. Increases in light pollution and habitat loss are both feared to have contributed to a decline in glow worm numbers in recent years.

Laura Mullholland, ecologist at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Glow worms are magical insects, we know that they have been spotted in Hemel Hempstead but we’re really keen to find out if they are living anywhere else and how they’re doing. “Because the females don’t have wings, colonies tend to stay around the same areas, so, once we’re found a new spot it’s important we make sure we protected them.

“There really isn’t anything quite like seeing those pinpricks of light – you never forget it.

“People often think of glow worms as being a romantic sight, but they’re more like the lonely hearts of the insect world – the ladies glowing away at the top of their stalks, waiting for their prince to come.

“Losing them from the UK countryside would be devastating, but with help we can make sure that they’re still glowing for the generations to come.”

Sightings can be reported through the Great Nature Watch app, or on the Canal & River Trust website here.