Juliet's Jottings

Dragonflies - August 2016

emperor dragonflyAt this time of the year most of the damselflies are over, but there are plenty of dragonflies still around. In fact, this year, they seem to have emerged quite late and are now more plentiful than earlier in the summer. They can be encountered almost anywhere, but their breeding habitat is always around water.

The Emperor is our largest dragonfly, and it has been flying for some time, but there are still good numbers around. The male (left) has a green thorax (body) and a blue abdomen, and vigorously  patrols ponds and open water, often flying at a height of several metres. The female is all green. It's no use going looking for them (or any of the other species) unless it's a sunny day, since the moment the sun goes in they disappear into the vegetation and remain hidden until the sun reappears.

Golden-ringed dragonflyAlthough the Emperor is the largest by bulk it is not the longest. That honour goes to the stunningly patterned Golden-ringed Dragonfly (right), which is more likely to be found along streams than over open water. It likes acid heathland and can also be found on wooded streams. Unlike the Emperor, its flight is linear: it flies quite low over the water along a stretch of stream in one direction, and then turns round and flies back up again. It can be quite approachable when perched on overhanging vegetation. The individual photographed has very tatty wings so had probably been out for quite some time.

‘A truly fantastic day out. My wife and I were bowled over by the amazing spring colours of rhododendrons and azaleas and there was literally colour everywhere. There are beautiful areas to walk through as well as places to sit. We took a picnic in the hope of being able to sit by one of the ponds and were not disappointed – the reflections were as spectacular as the real thing! The next thing we want to do is return in the autumn to see the colours change as it must be beautiful’

David Parker, Christchurch

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