Posts tagged ‘Dragonfly’

June 14, 2013

Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonflies

14 June 2013

One of the best things about having a pond in your garden is the wildlife it attracts. I tend to see two of the larger dragonflies: the Southern Hawker and the Broad-bodied Chaser, and the first sighting of either in the year is a really “whoopee!” moment.

This female Broad-bodied Chaser appeared (or I first saw her) on 31 May, which fits in with their peak flight period of May to July – they live up to their name, and are broad in the body, and thus easy to identify; they are also common in England, so you are quite likely to see one. She was flying around the flower bed, and obligingly stopped for some time on a flower stalk for me to photograph her.

Female Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly - olive coloured

Female Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly

The male turned up on 6 June. He stuck to the area around the pond, exhibiting typical male dragonfly behaviour in patrolling round and round, perching from time to time in various places; he didn’t settle for long, so he was more of a challenge to photograph.

Male Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly - pale blue

Male Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly

Twice since then, we have seen a male and female Broad-bodied Chaser coupled together. It’s so amazing that they can fly while copulating, and at first glance you wonder what this odd creature flying round you is. Hopefully, the female will lay eggs in the pond and we’ll have more generations of this gorgeous dragonfly to come.

If you want to know more about dragonflies in Dorset, have a look at the Dorset Dragonfly Group website.

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May 7, 2013

The emergence of the damsel flies

Large Red Damselfly, just emerged, with the empty pupal case to the left

Large Red Damselfly, just emerged – you can see the empty pupal case to the left.

Walking past the pond a day or two ago, I noticed the flash of shiny wings and thought it was a crane fly, or similar, as I’d seen one a few days previously. Carrying on across the garden, I saw a flying insect land on an allium leaf, and on closer inspection, it was a damselfly. This made me wonder if it was actually a damselfly I’d seen over the pond, and whether we might have some emerging.

We regulary see dragonfly/damselfly larvae in the pond – they often catch your eye because they move so quickly, though in doing so, they’ve probably shot out of sight. A good way of seeing them is to go out with a torch at night, when they will often be visible and quite still on the side of the pond. We used to have Southern Hawkers emerging from the pond quite regularly at the end of May; we didn’t get any last year, but the experience has taught us where to look for the emerging larvae.

Large Red Damselfly clinging to leaf

Large Red Damselfly

I grabbed the binoculars and headed back to the pond. Sure enough, on looking towards the bottom of the many reeds starting to grow out of the water, I soon spotted a small larval case – then another, then another. By the time my husband and I had been staring at the reeds for a while, we were up to at least 10, and no doubt there were more we didn’t see.

One adult damselfly, as we watched, flew up and landed on some leaves at the side of the pond – shown in the photo above. He/she sat there for some time, then took off and flew towards the hedge, wings glinting brightly in the sun, only for a bird to fly out and grab it. It seemed a rather sad end, after all that growing as a larva, then surviving the actual emergence, but the bird needed to feed its young, so that’s the way it goes.

We live in hope of Southern Hawkers emerging again this year, as we know a female laid in and around the pond last September, but the larvae sometimes stay in the pond for two years, so there are no guarantees. The photo below was taken on 1 September 2012, and you can see she is bending the back half of her body round, to lay her eggs; she not only laid them around the edges of the pond itself, but also in a couple of logs we keep to each end of the pond bench as tea-cup stands. It definitely shows that having natural wood around the garden is wildlife friendly, just as the experts say.

Female Southern Hawker dragonfly laying eggs at the edge of the pond

Female Southern Hawker dragonfly laying eggs at the edge of the pond