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[Dragonintro]Introduction to the Dragonflies section

First I would highly recommend a great book "Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britian and Europe" by Dijkstra and Lewington. For me as a total beginer it has been my bible!

There almost 5700 species of Dragonlies in the world today. Most of them live in the tropics, but about 120 occur in Europe and here there are but a few on this website but hopefully it will grow.

Remember Dragonflies are harmless to humans, they have no sting and will not attack or bite.

Dragonfly Behaviour

Dragonflies are Amphibious

Larve live in water, adults on land and in the air. The larva sheds its skin several times underwater, allowing it to grow. When it is fully grown, the larva leaves the water, moults a final time, expands its wings and abdomen and, when these have hardened sufficiently,flies off as an adult dragonfly. This is known as emergence;Dragonflies do not pupate. The final larval skin, the exuvia,can be found at the waterside as proof of a completed life cycle at that site.

Dragonflies are Predators

All species hunt,both as larva and adults. Most prey is invertebrate,especially insects,but a large larva may, for instance,eat tadpoles or small fish.

Dragonflies have a unique mode of reproduction, with indirect insemination and delayed fertilisation

Sperm is transferred by the male from the abdomen tip, where it is passed on to the female. Other animals either transfer sperm indirectly outside the body, or directly. Eggs are fertilised when they are laid, allowing males to remove sperm of rival males when they succeed in copulating with a mated female.


[dratop1]Topography of a Dragonfly

Names to some of the parts of a Dragonfly.


[beautifuldemoiselle6]Demoiselles

Large and broad-winged damselflies with metalic bodies and veins. Males are colourful (most often blue) and often have extensively coloured wings. Femals are a metallic green or brown, with clear to brown wings.

The resting posture is distinctive, with raised abdomen and closed wings. Both sexs found along flowing water often in great numbers.


[bluetdamsel2]Bluetails

Delicate damselflies,are easily recognised by their "tail light", a striking blue marking at the end of the abdomen. this stands out becouse the abdomen is otherwise largely bronze- black, with the underside of roughly yellow.


[az5]"American" Bluets

Typical bluets, the males being blue, distinctively marked with black. Females are usually either brown or blue.


[az3]"Eurasian" Bluets

Males are small blue damselflies marked with black. The blue areas may be greenish or whitish. Females are blacker, and more often green or brownish.

Males typically fly low among vegitation close to water and seldom venturing far from it.


[largeredeyeddam1]Brighteyes

This group includes two types of species, both with bright-eyed males.

Unlike other damselflies, males tend to stay away from the waters edge, preferring floating andemergent perches.


[largereddam4]Large Red Damsels

Rather large damselflies with a mainly red abdomen, no postocular spots, black legs and dark pterostigmas. Some females lack any red, being black marked with yellow.


[shawker6]Mosaic Hawkers

Often seen hawking in open but sheltered places, such as glades and gardens as well as over predominately still waters. Hunting individuals often concentrate at good sites,especially towards dusk. Males make aggressive and swift patrols over water, frequently interrupting direct flight with hovering pauses.


[blueemperor8]Emperors

Among our largest dragonflies,all species are fast, powerful flyers. Males of most species patrol effortlessly over the centre of larger waterbodies. Will often rest low among waterside vegitation, for instance during poor weather, hanging vertically.


[hairyhawker1]Hairy Hawkers

A small hawker that is often confused with the smaller "Aeshna" species. It has an earlier flight season, and its hairy body and stout abdomen create the impression of a more compact insect. Males are often seen hawking low down closely following marshy margins, in late spring and early summer.


[goldrindrag2]Goldenrings

Easily recognised by the very large size (70-100mm), the black and yellow body pattern and the eyes just meeting in a point on top of the head.

All species breed in permanent springs and smaller streams.


[scarcechaser2]Chasers

Bulky, medium-sized dragonflies, with diagnostic large blackish triangular patches at the hindwing base, normally crossed by pale veins.

The aggressive males, chase off rivals with fast, defensive flights undertaken from prominent perches, such as stakes.


[blacktailedsk3]Skimmers

Almost every blue to grey pruinose dragonfly with clear wings will be a Skimmer male.

This is an active species, often perching on the ground or stones.


[redvdarter1]Darters

All Darters behave similarly. They spend most of their time on a prominent perch, from which short sorties are undertaken to chase prey or rivals.



© Simon Thurgood 2017
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