Garden News

More About Dragonflies - September 2016

There are various different groups of dragonflies, not all of which are called "dragonfly". There are darters and hawkers and chasers as well as plain "dragonflies".

Common DarterThe darters are small dragonflies that dart out from their perch after prey or rivals; they are restless fliers that dart about, often returning to the same spot. Common Darters (left), as the name implies, are very common. They are found in a wide range of habitats including pools and ditches as well as ponds and lakes. The male has a slender orange-red abdomen, while the female is yellow.


Ruddy DarterA less common darter is its close cousin, the Ruddy Darter (right). Although superficially similar, it differs from the Common Darter in being a brighter red, with a shorter abdomen, which in the male is noticeably waisted. They have a bouncy, jerky flight and will come quite close, or even land on you, once accustomed to your presence. They are not so widespread as the previous species, occurring in shallow, overgrown ponds and lakes. There is a good population at Exbury at present and I watched a mated pair egg-laying. Through binoculars it was possible to see the white egg issuing from the tip of the female's abdomen as the pair repeatedly and vigorously dipped up and down, flicking the egg into the vegetation.

mated pair of Ruddy Darters(left: mated pair of Ruddy Darters)

The chasers zoom around (and often perch); the hawkers are strong fliers and quite high. September is the month for hawkers and there are various species possible in our area. There are also two species of darter around at this time of year.

‘What could be better on a trip down to the New Forest than a walk in a beautiful garden, a ride on a steam train (which my grandson adored!) and a chance to see the Beaulieu river close up? A memorable day out and a gem of a place’

Rob Gregory, Oxford

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