a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Special Mission


Last Saturday night I went on a special mission.  Being me, I was very excited about it.  But to begin at the beginning it had all started when I was contacted by the Observatoire des Vers Luisants by email in early July asking me if I had seen any glow worms in my garden this year because I had let them know that I had seen at least one in the summer of 2012.

As it so happened my husband had spotted one in the garden the day before we received the email.  I was able to reply that we had already had a sighting in the garden.  There are two possible insects that could emit light in the evening, the fireflies or the glow worms.  What we have seen are glow worms.

1-Glow worm 1

This is a photograph taken in 2012 from a post “It is a matter of perspective”.  I did not think to take a photograph this year.

When I responded to the enquiry that we had a sighting in the garden, I also indicated that I would be prepared for any “Special Mission” that might be forthcoming.

Last Friday I was contacted by telephone and asked if I would be able to follow a given route from the house between the 24 and 26 July after sunset.  This is the first time I have taken part in one of these “Citizen Science” projects and I was delighted to agree.

I duly received my map which showed me a route from the house towards the village for about a kilometre.  I was very pleased with the route because it was exactly where we had seen the glow worms in previous years.  The 24 th. was a fine summer evening and we decided to make a supplementary search in the garden before starting on the given route.   I am not used to wandering in the garden at night with no light so I managed to fall over the wires holding up the vine posts – I hadn’t expected this mission to be so dangerous!

Whether by coincidence or not, that night the street lighting in our little hamlet was not switched on. Despite walking the route slowly, one behind the other, we did not spot any glow worms.  Even the glow worm we had seen in the garden was not there.  We were very surprised but posted our zero count as every result is important especially a negative one.  We have had an extremely dry period and the edges of the road had been closely cropped in June leaving hardly any vegetation.  I do not know whether this would make a difference but I added it to the comment section of my return.

Do you see fireflies or glow worms in your gardens?

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

32 thoughts on “Special Mission

  1. Not in my garden, but I have seen glow worms in a nearby churchyard, well away from a road, on a raised south-facing bank which is rarely cut as it isn’t very accessible.


    • Sounds as if they have got themselves a comfortable niche there. We had some that occupied the same spot over several years. I don’t know what has happened to them this year. Amelia


  2. Forgot to say that I live in Lewes in East Sussex


  3. How exciting! Fireflies and glow worms are such magical creatures. I have never seen them in the UK. In fact I have never heard of fire flies anywhere here. I have seen them in France and Martinique and it was such a wonderful experience. I wonder if sightings of these wonderful creatures gave rise to the idea of fairies.


  4. How exciting! But a bummer not to get any records.


  5. How lucky to have them visit you. Funnily enough I spent Wednesday night on a glow worm counting walk with the Wildlife Trust in Cambridge of all places (an old chalk quarry). We counted ~20, which the WLT were quite pleased about. I had completely the wrong idea about them flying around etc, ‘cos the female glow worm apparently crawl!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting. We had a very dry May, and so far this year, I haven’t seen fireflies.


  7. Nothing glowing here at night except the stars. If there are any fireflies or glowworms, they’ve stayed well hidden in the 10 years I’ve lived here.

    . . . a huge contrast to some years in Michigan and Illinois when driving at night one would regrettably wipe out a large number of them.


  8. How exciting, no, I’ve never seen them here although I would have thought there might be some; I’ll keep at special look out and let you know if I see any.


    • I would imagine you should get them but you have to look at ground level and wait for the periodic flash. Often after dark it is easy to gaze into the sky or look at the treeline in the distance and you could miss them. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for your faithfulness. We have lightning bugs here, but they don’t seem to be as many this year. Sad, because my granddaughter loved them, as sparse as they were.


  10. Magical that you saw one, even if it wasn’t lit up yet. The only place I’ve ever seen them is Borneo, where I saw many thousands lighting up trees along a river.


  11. I’m not sure that we have glow worms here but I do see a lot of fireflies.


  12. A neighbor and I were just discussing the abundance of fireflies this summer. It’s been just magical. On the other hand, I don’t even know what a glow worm is so I’m off to educate myself! 😀


    • The fireflies will make it a summer to remember if there are more than usual. If you know what the fireflies look like you could check low down on the ground after sunset. The adult female does not fly and glows to attract a mate so once you catch sight of one it is quite easy to point it out to someone else as it is stationary. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  13. We have some in a north facing bracken covered wall. I see them most nights when I’m closing the shutters!


  14. Loved the descriptive mission Amelia. I have never seen one and was interested to read frog end dwellers experience over here. What happens now, do you keep looking and recording or did they just want that weekends results?


    • The special mission was a one day count which I hope has many correspondents all over France and will give them a snap shot (Kodak Brownie) idea of numbers in France. If this is repeated, over the years an idea of population fluctuations could be made. Who knows more variables could be added such as weather condition and agriculture in the area. It will also draw more attention to glow worms. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Glow worm update | a french garden

  16. I’ve never seen a glow worm or firefly but I don’t think we have them here


  17. Pingback: Have you seen a glow worm? | a french garden

  18. Pingback: Special Mission – Year Two | a french garden

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