Danmselflies and dragonflies
Damselflies and dragonflies are beautiful insects which are most often found near ponds, lakes and river banks, however they often stray for quite long distances from main bodies of water in search of small garden ponds in which to lay their eggs. I have seen them often around my small pond which is at least half a mile (one kilometre) from the nearest stream. Perhaps they think (if insects are capable of thinking) that it’s safer to lay their eggs in smaller ponds because there may be fewer predators. You can watch a video of a Southern hawker dragonfly laying its eggs in my wildlife garden pond by clicking HERE.
As already mentioned, dragonflies lay their eggs underwater. Some can be seen flying along the surface of the water dipping their rear under and releasing their eggs. Other species will perch on the stem of a water plant with their rear under the surface and cut a slit in the stem of the plant where it will lay the egg inside the stem. When hatched they are called nymphs and grow into voracious predators feeding on other water dwelling creatures like tadpoles and even small fish. They spend two or three years as nymphs, but when the time arrives they climb up the stem of a water plant out of the water where their external shell dries hard. From this shell emerges a beautiful dragonfly.
It can be difficult to recognise some species as they are very similar and each species can have variations. To confuse things further the males and females can be different, as you can see from the pictures of mating couples in the gallery. Any species which have their own page on my site will be found in the UK but some pictures in the gallery are taken while I’ve been on holiday so may not appear in the wild here. I’ve tried my best to identify the dragonflies and damselflies in the pictures from my reference books but I’m not an expert so on occasion I may be wrong. Even different books I’ve seen give different names to what look like the same dragonflies.
Click on pictures below to enlarge (only when NOT in slideshow mode).