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The intriguing glimmer of a glow worm

What a year so far!  Summer at Church Farm in Devon was blissfully hot and dry until August arrived. Butterflies and bees flourished on the abundance of wild flowers bursting in the meadows. Our bird table was as busy as ever with young blue and great tits vying for peanuts, with juvenile great spotted woodpeckers. Four new kestrels flew their nest in the barn, leaving a later brood of near neighbours, two gently snoring young barn owls. Their continual calls urging fraught parents to find food in the late afternoon.

As darkness descends a chorus of crickets and grasshoppers adds to the pleasure of an evening stroll. But the highlight at this time of the year, especially after the heat of day, is much smaller and rare - glow worms. Discovering the tiny green glimmer of our most intriguing inhabitant is always exciting. They are not a worm but a beetle. And a rather special one at that.  A chemical cocktail produces their cold green light. From egg to adult they gently glow, although brightest by far is the flightless female. They need darkness to thrive yet today that is increasingly difficult to find. Once common the increasing use of outdoor illumination is now luring male glow worms to brighter lights. Leaving the females alone. Thankfully steep valleys add to the darkness of our valley at night. A feature not only essential for a beautiful beetle but  also for those of us that enjoy the wonder of a star lit sky.

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