COLUMN: Damselflies are weak fliers

Letter
Letter

How do you fancy living in a land where ferocious dragons hunt down their hapless prey, while damsels dance to attract a suitor?

Sound like something from Game of Thrones? Well, believe it or not, you are living there now.

Dragonflies and damselflies are related insects that love this area.

All the drainage ditches provide an excellent hunting and breeding ground. Here in south Lincolnshire, we might expect to see eight different kinds of damselfly and 11 different types of dragonfly.

Damselflies are fairly weak fliers and will stay close to water, but dragonflies can range wide and far. How do you know which ones are which?

Well, dragonflies are usually much larger, but the best way is to watch one when it rests. Damselflies fold their wings down their back, dragonflies hold their wings out sideways.

While we normally see the adults zooming about in the air, both dragon and damselflies start off their life under water.

They hatch from eggs attached to aquatic plants and live their first couple of years of their lives as underwater beings.

Ferocious little beasts they are, too, possessing spring-loaded jaws that grab their prey.

When the time is right, the nymphs leave the water and climb up the stems of water plants.

There, they break through their outer skin to reveal the new, fully-formed and winged creature inside.

It takes a while for the new form to dry and harden and, during this time, most fall prey to birds.

But eventually they are ready for flight, and go off to terrorise the skies.

They are quipped with massive eyes that can see in all directions and a superb mastery of flight. Forwards, sideways, even backwards.

This can be very good for us, as they are partial to eating midges and mosquitoes. Mind you, they can fall victim themselves.

The hobby is a small bird of prey, a summer visitor to Britain. It likes to eat birds like swallows, but is also quite partial to a dragonfly or two.

Dr Chris Andrews is visitor experience manager at RSPB Frampton Marsh