Night shot of fireflies in the thousands flittering about within in a single tree (Talisay - Wild Almond).

Night shot of fireflies in the thousands flittering about within in a single tree (Talisay – Wild Almond).

Now in its 50th year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition provides a global showcase of the very best nature photography. The competition is co-owned by two UK institutions that pride themselves on revealing and championing the diversity of life on Earth – the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide.

There is a major exhibition at the Natural History Museum that tours worldwide throughout the year. The winning images appear on this website, in BBC Wildlife Magazine and publications worldwide. As a result, the photographs are now seen by millions.

Jürgen Freund, Germany / Australia

Finalist 2014  Invertebrates

Firefly fiesta

Returning to the Bicol Region of the Philippines, Jürgen set out to revisit the magical sight he had witnessed many years before. He had spotted thousands of fireflies – winged beetles with light-emitting organs in their abdomens – lighting up almond trees as they sought out potential mates. At the time the riverbank was too muddy to set up a tripod for the long exposure needed, and it was impossible to photograph the spectacle from his boat. On his return, locals told Jürgen about another almond tree where fireflies gathered, this one along a much smaller river. Organising a boat, he set out after nightfall and found the fireflies swarming. This time there was solid ground beside the tree where he could just about stand and set up his tripod without falling into the river. The spectacle was electrifying. Fireflies were flashing in their thousands, some in synchrony, others appearing to respond to these blinks with their own. Finally, Jürgen was able to make the picture he had kept in his mind’s eye for such a long time, thankful that the Moon was at the right height to silhouette the tree.

And since we’re in the subject of fireflies, here’s a close-up of the insect that enthrals at night as it illuminates the dark forest!

Firefly insects are actually beetles, nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae.

Firefly insects are actually beetles, nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae.

This amazing bug was photographed in Tetepare in the Solomon Islands. Most fireflies have wings, and this distinguishes them from other lighting bugs of the same family, commonly known as glowworms. With around 2,000 firefly species, these insects like warm tropical environments and can also be found in the temperate regions. They like humid and moist areas in many parts of the world.