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.

‘We recently had some friends from London to visit and were looking for something to entertain our young children for the day. We decided to give Exbury Gardens a try and I thought it was wonderful. We had Sunday lunch in the restaurant and the food was far superior to other local attractions so compliments to the chef. Walking through the gardens was beautiful with lots of little pathways to explore. I have lived in the Romsey area for many years and always thought Exbury was a little out of the way but it only took me 20 minutes from the motorway. We will definitely be a regular visitor from now on.’

Philip Moulds, New Forest

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