Forget fire-breathing and maiden-like varieties, the most exciting dragons and damsels are on the wing now at nature reserves throughout the UK. And with the help of The Wildlife Trusts’ new online guide 40 places to see dragonflies and damselflies it’s easier than ever to find them.
There are 17 species of damselfly and 23 resident species of dragonfly in the UK. Both as larvae and as adults they live up to the dragon name, being voracious predators. They spend just a fortnight or so in their full adult glory, whizzing above wetlands in pursuit of their prey, before their life cycle comes to an end.
The Wildlife Trusts work around the UK to improve habitat for all wildlife, including dragonflies, on their 2,300 nature reserves. Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“Dragonfly and damselfly larvae are aquatic, so they rely on healthy wetland habitats to survive, such as bogs, ponds and ditches. The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland sites where dragonflies can thrive, and which give people the opportunity to get close to these prehistoric creatures, among the oldest invertebrates on earth.
“Almost a third of the UK’s dragonfly species are declining*, some of which have very specific needs, and The Wildlife Trusts are doing what they can to help. For example, Cumbria Wildlife Trust is halfway through a three year project to reintroduce the rare white-faced darter dragonfly to its Foulshaw Moss nature reserve.
“Meanwhile, Devon Wildlife Trust has just reported success from a programme to reintroduce the southern damselfly to its Venn Ottery nature reserve, with good numbers recorded this year.
“We hope our new online guide will inspire people to get out and enjoy the dragon and damsel flight period, and also spark a desire to help protect them through supporting local Wildlife Trusts and their Living Landscape schemes, many of which aim to restore and recreate wetland habitats in the UK.”
To download 40 places to see dragonflies and damselflies visit The Wildlife Trusts’ website http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/dragonflies.
*According to The British Dragonfly Society http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/content/home-page-how-you-can-help-section