The Dragonfly Season 2022

1st Dec 2022

Exbury has a thriving population of dragonflies and damselflies, so much so that the pond previously known as North Lake has been renamed Dragonfly Pond, and has been nominated by the British Dragonfly Society as a “Hotspot”. The other ponds and streams on the property also attract their share of species. This year a total of 18 different species, a mixture of dragonflies and damselflies, was recorded over the entire garden by BDS member, Steve Hewitt, and Exbury volunteer, Juliet Bloss. Ruary Mackenzie Dodds and Kari de Koenigswater also contributed to this total.

Apart from the “Hotspot” pond, the newly-created Mirror Ponds hosted good numbers of Azure damselflies and a few passing dragonflies such as Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chasers. On Jubilee Hill, leading down to Jubilee Pond, are some small streams where Golden-ringed Dragonfly and Beautiful Demoiselle were recorded. These two species are found on running water rather than on still ponds. Both the Bog Garden and the Iris Garden are places to look, though in the drought this summer the Bog Garden dried out. 

Small Red damselflies, a nationally scarce species, were found on both the Railway Pond (not accessible to the public) and at the “Hotspot”. Emperor Dragonflies, our largest species, were a constant presence, with the males vigorously patrolling the “Hotspot” pond, while the greenish females laid their eggs on the floating pondweed. Other common species on this pond were Azure and Blue-tailed damselflies, and both Red-eyed and Small Red-eyed damselflies.

The area from Top Pond to Stone Bridge, including the Cascades, attracted 12 different species, including Downy Emerald, and Large Red damselfly. These ponds have to be cleaned and repaired annually, which probably affects the number of species which they support, as larvae are inevitably lost during the essential repairs.
Damselflies were frequent in the early part of the season, but as the summer progressed more dragonflies were in evidence with both Southern and Migrant Hawkers common; the latest species of all, Common Darter, was still flying in small numbers in early December. Two species which have been seen in earlier years, the Emerald Damselfly and the Brown Hawker, were not recorded this year.

In summary, it was a satisfactory season, and with on-going management to improve the hotspot, Dragonfly Pond, we hope to continue to attract a wide variety of species and provide breeding habitat for them.