Coleopteran confusion – Laurie reports

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Ecologist Laurie Jackson had a lot of attention on a recent bat survey!

“Whilst conducting a bat survey in East Sussex recently, we found ourselves the targets of several amorous males!

Shortly after dusk, while I was watching for signs of bats emerging from under hanging tiles, a small beetle crash-landed on to my bat detector. I recognised it at once as a male glow-worm, having experienced its compulsive attraction to the lights on generators during moth trapping expeditions in the past. Female Glow worm RSPB

Glow-worms are beetles of a range of grassy habitats, where the larvae feed on slugs and snails. Their populations are thought to be in decline, although a lack of records makes this difficult to verify. Glow-worms produce light through an internal chemical reaction over which they have complete control (known as bioluminescence). Although a glow-worm can emit light throughout its life cycle (from egg to adult), it is the female who is the master torch bearer. She does not fly and will instead crawl to a suitable spot in vegetation to emit light from her abdomen. The males’ task is to take to the wing and track down her characteristic green glow.

In total we recorded ten male glow-worms around our bat detecting equipment. Whilst this was a great record for the site, we hope that we did not deter these wandering males for long, as they only have around a week to find a mate before they will die.

We are currently in peak glowing season, so be sure keep your eyes open at dusk for these tiny coleopteran beacons!”

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