What's on the Wing - June Dragonflies and Damselflies
Dragonflies and Damselflies are among the most fascinating and beautiful insects on earth.
For many it is difficult to tell the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly. Dragonflies have broad bodies and enormous eyes, damselflies are more slender and delicate. When dragonflies are at rest, they hold their wings out like a glider while damselflies will fold their wings over their backs. Both the damselfly and the dragonfly are excellent hunters of flying insects. They can fly at speeds up to 35mph and can spot amovement up to 40ft away.
They inhabit two realms - water and air. In their early life as a nymph they live within the water. As they mature and go through their metamorphosis, they move to the realm of air. Damselflies stay close to the water margins or water surface whilst dragonflies are often found flying well away from water.
The summer months of June, July and August is an excellent time to see dragonflies and damselflies at Kingcombe Meadows Reserve and Powerstock Common.
With the river meandering through the Kingcombe meadows and the abundance of lush vegetation and shady glades, this creates the perfect habitat for an abundance of dragonflies and damselflies. A splendid sight down by the river, where it is most at home, is the gentle fluttering of the Beautiful Demoiselle. The Banded Demoiselle, so named for the distinctive 'fingerprint' mark on the males' wings can also be seen along the edges of the river and amongst the vegetation. If you are lucky you may spot the Golden-ringed Dragonfly, a very large striking dragonfly, a fast, agile and powerful flyer.
Powerstock Common, with its abundance of ponds and damp marshy areas, is the perfect habitat to see a variety of medium-sized dragonflies such as Broad Bodied Chasers, the Four Spotted Chaser and the smaller Common Darter. The aptly named Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies are also on the wing. The Emperor Dragonfly, a very large, impressive dragonfly which is on the wing from June to August can be seen flying high-up looking for its prey.
Dragonflies and damselflies have been an extremely popular subject of folklore. An old name for damselflies was 'Devil's Darning Needles'. This stems from an old myth that if you went to sleep by a stream on a summer's day, they would use their long, thin bodies to sew your eyelids shut. Dragonflies were called 'Horse-Stingers'. This name may come from the way a captured dragonfly curls its abdomen as if in an attempt to sting and were often found in fields grazed by horses.
Dragonflies and damselflies are beautiful aerial jewels with stunning colours, fascinating behaviour and majestic powers of flight.
If you are interested in learning more about these fascinating insects and improving your ID skills why not join our special one day course at Kingcombe - Dragonflies and Damselflies on the 11th July - bookings required.