Dragonflies and Damselflies in the Forest

Our November in south-west Scotland has been the best month for sunshine since May! So records of dragonflies in August are most welcome. Andy Tittensor has just sent details of dragonflies and damselflies which were busy flying and mating on a friend’s large pond on a high ridge in the middle of Muirhead Forest, Ayrshire.

Mating pair of Emerald Damselfly

Lots of both male and female Emerald Damselflies (Lestes sponsa) were visiting the pond at noon on 25th August: they were mainly amongst the luxuriant marginal vegetation. Some of the females were laying eggs (‘oviposting’), which means that the species is breeding there. This pond, on moorland within Sitka spruce forest, is typical habitat for the Emerald Damselfly, which prefers acidic pools with well-vegetated margins.

Mating pair of Emerald Damselfly

The photographs show the males attached to the females; the amount of blue ‘pruinescence’ increases as a male gets older. Females are larger, straight metallic green and have a thicker abdomen.

Emerald Damselfly pair, female 'oviposting'

From the wooden causeway, Andy also saw two male Common Hawker Dragonflies

(Aeshna juncea) flying over the pond, occasionally landing for a few seconds on the edge. These dragongflies were, typically, constantly on the move, flying in a fast zig-zag pattern – so photographs were out-of-focus, but good enough to confirm identification.

The Common Hawker is a western & northern species, which prefers acidic or neutral waters on heathland or moorland, up to 600m altitude: this pond is at 300m. Again, ideal habitat!

Dragonflies and Damselflies have large eyes on their head, then a wide, shiny thorax and then a long, narrower abdomen – these show clearly on the photos.

Roll on next summer!

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