Action for insects

Jim Higham

Conservation Officer, Mark Schofield, has been busy gathering the troops to protect one of Lincolnshire's most charismatic woodland species - the glow-worm.

You may be surprised to learn that a glow-worm isn’t a worm at all, but a beetle. The males are light-brown, medium-sized, narrow beetles, with enlarged eyes which seek out the females’ glow. The females have no wings and look similar to the larvae. It’s these females which glow at night, putting on a show not just for us to enjoy but for the males they want to attract in the darkness of a summer evening.

Walking through a grassland or woodland ride, you’re most likely to spot a glow-worm in its larval form which differ from adult females in the orange flashes along their sides. They’ll usually hide under rocks and prefer deep grassy tussocks where they feed on slugs and snails.

Glow-worm

Glow-worm female (c) John Tyler

From May onwards, as glow-worm larvae and females start to become more mobile, they are often found by day and night on sunny stone paths in nature reserves, especially those made of crushed limestone. This can lead to many of the insects being crushed unknowingly by passers-by.

Although glow-worms are common across the UK, their presence in Lincolnshire is meager. To help give this rare population a boost, Conservation Officer for the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Mark Schofield, gathered together an army of workers to help create more improved habitat at Chambers Farm Wood, a Forestry England site near Bardney.

Cadets

Mark Schofield (centre) with the cadets (c) RAF Cranwell

Cadets from Cranwell on the Non-Commissioned Aircrew and Controllers Initial Training Course (NCACITC) volunteered some man-power to help with woodland habitat management on the 18th and 19th of January. The cadets helped with tree and scrub clearance in the ‘Minting Triangle’ part of the wood, and did so with high-spirits and standards to match.

This much-needed work has thrown a lifeline to glow-worms, an endangered and charismatic species in the wood. Managing the vegetation in this way imitates the natural browsing and grazing of wild herbivores and maintains a balance of open and shady habitats the glow-worms need to thrive. In addition, many species of butterflies and wildflowers will also benefit from the increased light levels at this location and this will boost biodiversity at a key location for wildlife in the county.

The work done in January builds on over a decade of work provided by the RAF throughout Chambers Farm Wood in partnership with the Lincolnshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation which has already saved the Brown Hairstreak butterfly from local extinction and continues to sustain vital habitat for dormice.

So next time you’re walking along a grassy path or woodland ride, spare a thought for our rare residents, and watch your step!

Glow-worm sign