Southern hawker

A late summer southern hawker photographed in the reserve last week by Clive Knight. The southern hawker’s flight period runs from the end of May right through into November but each individual dragonfly lives for only around six weeks. This one, to judge by it’s faded colours and torn wings, is approaching the end of its life.

The summer’s drought made difficulties for our dragonflies. Many of the shallow pools along the Lambrok dried up completely and the big pond, Grand Central Station for our Odonata, was reduced to a mere puddle. Not only do all dragonflies and damselflies need standing water for successful breeding, but so do their flying insect prey: nowhere to lay eggs, nothing to eat, not a good year.

How to tell a dragonfly from a damselfly

Dragonflies and damselflies are closely related cousins in the Odonata family but it isn’t difficult to tell them apart.

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Broad bodied chaser

Have you seen the male broad bodied chasers fighting for territory in spectacular aerial dog fights over the pond? There were at least ten of them yesterday, as well as two females laying their eggs in the pond’s shallow margins. If you’re passing, pause and watch; here is a video to help you with identification.

Header picture: broad bodied chaser (Libellula depressa) © Simon Knight.

How to tell a dragonfly from a damselfly

Dragonflies and damselflies are closely related cousins in the Odonata family but it isn’t difficult to tell them apart.

Continue reading

Broad bodied chasers

Dragonflies were among the first winged insects to evolve, around 300 million years ago, long before there were dinosaurs. Back then oxygen levels in our atmosphere were much higher than they are now, and dragonflies evolved into giants with wingspans like eagles. Now, the emperor dragonfly, the largest of Britain’s 36 dragonfly species, has a wingspan of a mere 11cm.

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Common Darter

By Ian Bushell

A male Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) resting on the wooden footbridge over the Lambrok tributary. At the pond, there were six male Common Darters protecting their own patches and I was lucky enough to get a picture of this pair mating.

A mating pair of common darters photographed near the pond by Ian Bushell.
Header picture: common darter, by Ian Bushell.

Hatch!

Extraordinary little video of an emperor dragonfly hatching into its final adult form.

Published on Jul 31, 2012 by wildvod.
Emperor Dragonfly larvae emerging from the kitchen garden pond at the Tyntesfield National Trust Estate in June 2012.

Ruddy darter?

This is, without doubt, a picture of a ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum). We rarely use as a headline any pictures that have not been taken in the park but this one was taken in Chemnitz, Germany by Jörg Hempel and has been downloaded from Wikimedia Creative Commons

Click here to find out why

Damsel fly or dragonfly?

It is easiest to tell the difference between the two when they are at rest; then a damselfly’s wings are folded along its body while a dragonfly’s wings are outspread, held at right angles to its body.

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Southern hawker

This is the third species of dragonfly that has been photographed in the park and identified this summer: a southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea). The other two are the scarce chaser (Libellula fulva) we reported on 14th June, and a broad-bodied chaser (Libellula depressa) photographed and identified by Ian on 29th June.

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