Lights off for the mating season

Published on: 30 Nov 2014

mangotsfield station

MANY people prefer the lights off when it’s time for a little, er, how’s your father, and it appears glow worms are no different.

In fact, such is their preference for mating in the dark, a stretch of a £125,000 lighting scheme at Mangotsfield will be switched off for five months a year so they can breed.

The LED lights play havoc with the sex lives of the creatures, outshining the distinctive green glow given off by the females and making it difficult for the flying males to spot them.

Signs have been put up at the Bristol and Bath Railway Path at Mangotsfield Station informing walkers and cyclists who use the route that the lights, which were installed this summer, will be turned off.

The signs, put up by South Gloucestershire Council, state: “This street light column will be switched off from May to September to allow glow worms to breed.

“Glow worms are fascinating creatures suffering decline. We are committed to trying to protect grassland and safeguard our biodiversity.”

The signs go on to explain how the artificial lighting effects the female glow worm.

“The light is subtle and easily drowned out by street lighting. If the female doesn’t attract a mate she will starve and die without laying eggs.”

Railway lines are know to be prime locations for glow worms but they can also be found in gardens, hedgerows, cliffs, woodlands and heathlands.

Siston councillor Ian Adams said the lights would be switched off during the summer months to minimise concerns about safety risks.  “Putting the lights along the cycle track is down to safety but it also takes into consideration the wildlife like the glow worms. The lights will be on during the dark winter months to improve safety for people who use the cycle track for walking their dogs, running or commuting into work by bike.

“The railway line has been there for a good 200 years and wildlife has had to adapt according to what has happened along that bit of line, whether it’s been steam trains running along it or people walking or riding their bikes. The council is making sure that wildlife is thought about and things aren’t just railroaded in.”

An unofficial UK glow worm survey was started in 1990. Before the study it was said that there were fewer than 100 sites in the UK where they could be seen. But due to members of the public registering sightings, it is now believed there are hundreds of sites home to the creatures.

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