13 July 2012

Where are the dragons?

The weather over the last few weeks has been more like October but warmer, it hasn't stopped us working but it has made the ground conditions more challenging!  Last week I was out with a hardy group of volunteers in the rain (again) protecting  naturally regenerating trees in Guards Wood.

Volunteers using tubes to protect young trees
If you imagine what summer should be like then that's the perfect time to go on a dragonfly hunt, a nice warm sunny afternoon with not too much wind. With names like Hawkers, Darters and Chasers dragonflies are amazing insects, fossils show they have been on the wing since the dinosaurs - they were much bigger then some had a wingspan of 30cm! 

The adults we see flying around can be up to five years old, golden ringed dragonfly larvae spend most of their lives living in mountain streams before emerging into the insects we see.

Golden Ringed dragonfly.
All dragonflies lay their eggs in water so the South Lakes has plenty of great habitat with the number of lakes, tarns, streams and mires.  Once the larvae emerge from the water they fly to other nearby habitat to feed, after a couple of weeks they return to the water to find a mate and lay eggs.   

Southern Hawker.
Adult insects can often be seen hunting away from water, Southern Hawkers are often found in woodland glades and will quite often fly up to have a look at you if you get in their way, don't worry contrary to old wives tales they won't bite! Dragonflies eat other insects which they catch in flight, they eat smaller prey on the wing but often hang up to eat larger things like butterflies.  I have seen a Golden Ringed dragonfly eating a bumble bee!

For such brightly coloured insects they disappear very easily when they land which makes finding them quite a challenge, a pair of binoculars really helps.  Darters often land on rocks or fence posts which makes them easy to find and photograph.

Common Darter 'posing' on a fence post
So if the sun ever does come out  ... do look out for these amazing insects.

post by Richard, Woodland Ranger


  1. http://emc-mee.kinja.com/east-eldmam-com-1791211077


  2. http://emc-mee.kinja.com/1791211985


  3. http://emc-mee.kinja.com/1791212965


  4. http://emc-mee.kinja.com/1791213301