Common European glowworm (Lampyris noctiluca)

Bioluminescence has fascinated me since early childhood when I first encountered these glowing dots in the heather, mosses, lichen or bare rocks by the ocean where I live.

As the years went on I have been fortunate to encounter incredible diversity of glowing insects, fungi and ocean-dwellers. In South America glowing termite mounds towering higher than me in the forests and the Cerrado, jellyfish in the seas of Asia, species as bright as a LED light in the forest of the Guiana Shield in Venezuela and glowing fungi in Thailand.

Common to the tropics is the absolutely stunning diversity, intensity and beauty.

Yet these uncommon glowworms of Scandinavia are as exciting as those in the tropics to me, as they signify the magic of the bright Nordic nights filled with sweet scents from so many flowering species. The sky has no stars, yet nature has produced these green and rare stars on the ground that you can see if you are lucky. And they have only a very short time during the darkest of the twilight to shine before daylight reigns supreme again

This summer, as with every summer, I had my usual round before I went to bed to check for these green dots, and lo and behold – I finally encountered this one. It was shining against the northern sky and thus competing with the sky that this night had a veil of high clouds dimming the bright sky somewhat.

I ran inside to get my camera gear and started shooting some test shots to see it if was sitting still, as some are moving the shining part of the body in slow tai chi-like movements, thus making a long exposure out of the question. It was indeed very still, so I decided to shoot some long exposures before I added some artificial light to enable lower ISO. But suddenly the show was over, and as the sky was brightening I knew this was it for this night.

Only when I checked the images on my computer did I see that I was in fact capturing a mating, and when the show was over the male took to the wings to hopefully encounter another glowing female nearby.

I will continue to look for it and others in the coming nights, but in just a couple of weeks it will all be over.

During my several decades at this location I have only one summer experienced a lot of them, which means 20-30 within half a square kilometer. Usually it’s 0-5, so I wonder to this day what caused that surge in glowworms that year. It was absolutely amazing and made me think of the tropics.

Elevation: 4 meters

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