Islay’s Dragonflies and Damselflies

Another week has passed and although it's cycling week on the blog I think you shouldn't miss another fabulous blog from Teresa Morris. The pictures she sends me are always taken either by herself or by a friend on Islay and I know it takes a lot of time and patience to wait for that one moment to take the ultimate picture. All the more reason to appreciate that she want's to share them with us all. This week is another example of that patiently waiting for the one picture and it shows off. Again Teresa and her friend managed to take some incredible close up images of Dragonflies and Damselflies. (Image right shows Red Damselflies mating).

Teresa Morris of Islay Wildscapes: This week I will introduce you to some of the species of dragonfly and damselfly which can be observed in the wetter moorland, lochside and freshwater habitats on Islay. They are truely remarkable insects with stunning colours.

Dragonflies are insects with unequal sized wings. Hind wings are usually shorter and broader than forewings. They are usually large, strongly flying insects that can often be found flying well away from water. When at rest, they hold their wings out from the body, often at right angles to it. The eyes are very large and usually touch, at least at a point.

Damselflies are amazing insects with paired wings. All four wings are nearly equal in size and shape. They are usually small, weakly flying insects that stay close to the water margins or water surface. When at rest, most species hold their wings along the length of their abdomen. Continue reading.....

Islay has ideal habitat for the Common Hawker dragonfly, which is found around bog pools and acidic moorland habitat. They fly from mid June to October and are most often seen hawking over breeding areas along the edges of woodland and >small acid pools. Good areas of this habitat on Islay are found in the Rhinns, Ardtalla and Ballygrant woodlands. (image right: Common Hawker Dragonfly, Aeshna juncea. Length: 74mm)

Sitting by a small loch on a warm summer’s day as a large hawker dragonfly glides past, it is hard to imagine that such large insects have been around for over 300 million years. Their large size, beautiful colours and acrobatic skills remind us that they are essentially insects of the tropics. These large dragonflies, with restless patrolling flight, have their peak flight period in August.

Look out for the adults in late July and August; males appear quite blue and with binoculars the yellow leading edge of the wings can easily be seen. Females (brown with yellow markings) are more likely to be heard rustling noisily in the vegetation as they seek out suitable sites to lay their eggs. Eggs are laid on living plant stems close to the surface. Larvae may take up to four years to develop into adults in these cold environments.

Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum Length: 32mm
These beautiful blue damselflies are quite common and widespread on Islay. They can be found around moorland pools, burns and lochs. They often perch gregariously on emergent plant stems, all facing the same way.

Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula. Length: 36mm
These are to be found predominantly in the north and west of Islay in freshwater habitats around pools and slow flowing burns. They are a large, active, deep red damselfly with black legs and a bronze-black top to the thorax which has broad red or yellow stripes. The female exists in several colour forms varying in the amount of red and black on the abdomen from nearly all black in to mainly red.

Freshwater Pool Killinallan, good habitat for Damselflies

With thanks to a good friend of mine on Islay for the images of Common Hawker Dragonfly and Common Blue Damselfly.

Tag: wildlife wildscapes seasonwatch damselfly dragonfly killinallan insects

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