Glow worm sites in and around Sussex

A. Records published by Anthony Wootton (Country-Side 1971, 21 456-463 and 572-574, and XXII, No 6, Spring 1974, 266-271.)
NB: Comments such as '10 years ago' here refer from 1970s.

Wepham Wood Nr Arundel (TQ04/07) up to July 1970;
Nr West Hove Golf Course, Hangleton (TQ262078), 27 females plus 2 males, July 1970 [See also site 084 below]
Paddockhurst Estate, between Turners Hill and Balcombe (TQ3030), 2+. July 1968;
Chailey, between Wilding Wood and Markstakes Common (TQ3918), up to 1970;
Ashdown Forest (between TQ440336 and 441335), 10+, July 1968;
Searles Lake Cottage, by shallow lakes, between Fletching and Nutley (TQ4020), July 1967;
Nr Rotherfield, on disused railway track (TQ560315), 2, 1968;
The Crumbles, Langney Point, Eastbourne (TQ6402), pair, 1968;
Hastings (c.TQ8000), abundant, recent years; [Many recent reports (1990s) from Fairlight and Firehills Country Park]
Steyning, Round Hill (TQ167105), 2 f several hundred yards apart, adjacent to footpath, late July 1971;
Shoreham-by-Sea, alongside western edge of abandoned railway line (TQ205071), 4 females widely separated;
(TQ206068-207063), total of 161 f counted liberally distributed in vegetation on each side of abandoned railway line, also on
ballast etc, mid July 1972 (further down railway than previous record)
Southwick Hill, NT land (TQ241077), several f and mating pair, early-late July 1971; few, late June 1972;
Selwyn's Wood, Cross-in-Hand, Heathfield (TQ552206), several on edge of woodland (SNT Reserve), summer 1971;
Hambrook (SU785063), in hedgerow, c 1939;
Stoke Down (SU837094), 1f in overgrown chalkpit, July 1973;
Nr Singleton (SU877154), few along edge of forest ride, early July 1972;
Chilgrove, Nr Chichester (SU8010), up to 12 in garden, 1971;
Blackdown House, Nr Haslemere (SU9020), formerly numerous in garden, but decreased in recent years (1971);
Coldwaltham (TQ027167), common at cottage, 1973;
Old Place, Pulborough (TQ0010), 1 in scrubland by Glebe Field path between station and Old Place, 1971;
Fittleworth (TQ0010), several in garden and nearby, 1970-71;
Beeding Hill, nr Upper Beeding (TQ209100), 2f c. 100 yds apart in grass at edge of footpath, late July 1972 [Also in 1992]
Newtimber Hill (NT), nr Poynings (TQ269122-7) fairly numerous, late June 1972);
Between Glynde and Berwick, c. 100 on rly bank, reported in Sussex Express and Herald, 20 July 1869
About 0.5 mile E of Lewes golf course (TQ444105), 1 by footpath, late June 1972
Glynde (TQ4000), by road between church and station, up to 1971 (when observer stopped walking);
Just E of Lewes, (c. TQ4010), several in garden on slope of down from 1959-71 when observer moved)
Willingdon (TQ579020), 'thousands' on slopes above village in 1919;
Alfriston, nr Polegate (TQ5000), 2 in bedroom on different dates in early July 1971; first after 15 years and more common 40
years ago, at edges of fields and in garden; rare now;
Hampden Park, Eastbourne (TQ605028), seen up to c.1944 when observer left area: 2 in garden c.1938;
Whydown nr Bexhill (TQ7000), in garden 1970-71.

B. Sites reported to Robin Scagell
Site  Map    Location and details if any: f = (glowing) females
No    Ref
095 SU639127 Hambledon, Hants 3f 1991 [Also several seen in area 1992]
611 SU657200 Chalk pit at roadside. 1f, 19.7.90.
140 SU8711   The Trundle, Goodwood, Chichester, Sussex 46f 1991
600 SU871205 Bepton, under hedges, since 1971.
602 SU875215 Hedges around cemetery. 1977-87.
166 SU875215 Midhurst Common 2f 1991
569 SU875246 Woolbeding Common. 1f, August 1965
156 SU878213 Midhurst Common 10f 1991
601 SU878213 Under pylon line, Midhurst Common. 1978-87.
543 SU974128 Bignor Hill, Sussex 20-25 years ago
630 TQ014077 Arundel Park, 1950s.
581 TQ078350 Baynards, on old rly, near old stn. 'Hundreds' in 1990.
616 TQ0919   W Chiltington Common: In garden and nearby pub car park. Recent.
126 TQ1208   Findon, Worthing, Sussex 17f 1991
632 TQ126121 Washington Chalk Pits. Recent.
597 TQ154256 Blinks Wood, Southwater. 1f 5.7.90.
596 TQ158258 Southwater Country Park 12f, 3.7.90.
258 TQ2016   Henfield Common. 18f 1991
161 TQ219135 Woods Mill, Sussex 9f 1991
564 TQ234084 Southwick Hill 13f, 16.6.88. [Also seen 1992]
566 TQ257113 NW of Devils Dyke, by path from Poynings to dyke, near base. 1988
084 TQ262078 Benfield Hill, Hove 27f 1991
572 TQ300340 Worthledge Forest. In past, 'have disappeared'
568 TQ326080 Moulscombe Wild Park. Recently
580 TQ340085 By side of A27. 27f in 1990.
582 TQ3619   Chalk downland just off road, Wivelsfield Green, abundant, 9.7.90.
160 TQ417100 Lewes, Sussex 2f 1991
604 TQ433114 Malling Down, Lewes, 8f, 20.7.90.
593 TQ543034 Nr Wilmington Long Man, 12f, 23.6.90.

The search for Phosphaenus hemiptera [Note written 1992]
As noted on the home page, as well as Lampyris noctiluca there is another, very rare, British glow worm, Phosphaenus hemiptera. The word 'rare' is probably inappropriate as this implies that they are around, but rarely seen. In fact, it may no longer exist in the UK. I have very little information about it, although it is not rare on the Continent. Since it has only been noted in Sussex and Hampshire it is well worth people in the area keeping a special eye open for it.

I gather that the last record in Britain was in 1961 at Chelwood Gate in Ashdown Forest. It was also seen, I think during the 1950s, at Buxted churchyard. The previous sighting was in 1947 at Bitterne Park, Southampton. From this, it does rather sound as if the chances of finding one ever again are not far removed from zero!  [Wrong -- it was found in 1995!]

It seems that Phosphaenus was actually seen by day at Buxted churchyard when an entomologist found one crawling over the gravestones. While females of Lampyris are brownish, Phosphaenus is described as 'pitchy'. It is uncertain how brightly it glows at night though both sexes are said to glow. (Actually, males of Lampyris are said to glow faintly, but I have never spoken to anyone who has seen this). As well as both sexes being much smaller than Lampyris, the male Phosphaenus has very much less well developed wings beneath the elytra (the wing cases of beetles most noticeable on a ladybird) and is said to be flightless in one reference, though another says that it can fly. One reference says that both sexes lack wings and both are brightly luminous, occurring in the vicinity of the New Forest. Mind you, this reference makes other statements which are questionable.

Anyone who wishes to make a special effort to find Phosphaenus may be rewarded with a very worthwhile discovery bearing in mind the possibility of confusion with ordinary glow worm larvae. A more detailed literature search would be a good start.

A third type of glow worm, Lamprohiza splendidula, was found just once in Britain a single insect was beaten from a hedge near Leeds in Kent in 1884. This had presumably been blown or carried over from the continent.  - Robin Scagell

The local area coordinators for Sussex are Robert and Julie Howard, Tulip Tree Cottage, Spinney Lane, W. Chiltington, W Sussex RH20 2NX. Reports may be made directly to them in the first place.