WILDLIFE fans in Purbeck are being urged to take part in an exercise to identify where glow worms are still active.
The National Trust is aiming to help the species thrive in the area, but says it needs to know where they are – with the help of the public.
People are being urged to record sightings of the small beetles, which light up the hedgerows in July and August.
Once common across the country, numbers have seriously declined in the south over recent years.
Mark Singleton, the National Trust’s countryside manager for Purbeck, said: “Seeing glow-worms is a magical experience, but one that is becoming increasingly rare.
“The first step in helping their populations recover is mapping out exactly where the glow-worms are. Then we can work to join up the pockets of scrubland where they still survive to create a bigger and better landscape where glow-worms and other wildlife can spread and thrive.”
Glow worm larvae can live for up to three years, feeding on snails.
The adult beetles only live for a few weeks and don’t feed at all – all their energy is spent on mating.
Although the eggs, larvae and adult males all glow, it’s the adult females who shine the brightest. They crawl up vegetation on warm evenings and emit their yellow-green light to attract males.
The monitoring project is being coordinated by the National Trust, in partnership with the Purbeck Natural History Forum and Durlston Country Park.
Volunteers are being encouraged to either join an organised glow-worm monitoring programme, with a training day on Monday, July 10, or to record sightings informally on iRecord.
The iRecord app allows anyone to record wildlife sightings which can be added to a national database, making a real contribution to science and conservation.
Mark added: “It’s unclear exactly why glow worm numbers are plummeting, but habitat loss and the use of pesticides are likely reasons.
“Working with our tenant farmers and partners, we want to manage the land in Purbeck without chemicals, and so give nature a chance to recover.”
Anyone interested joining the organised glow worm monitoring programme can email email@example.com, while recorders will need to join the Purbeck Natural History Forum. Find out more about their work at purbeckheaths.org.uk/purbeck-natural-history-forum. For informal recordings, sign up for iRecord at irecord.org.uk.