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Height Of The Dragonfly Season
Martin Roberts, Dragonfly Correspondent
Four-spotted Chaser
The large and spectacular Dragonflies are most active during June, July and August. While their smaller relatives the Damselflies tend to flit amongst the pondside vegetation, the true Dragons are active flyers and dominate the airspace above our ponds and streams. If you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time you can witness an astonishing aerobatic display as they hunt, mate and lay eggs, all while on the wing. Did you know that they can even fly backwards?

One of the commonest species is the Four-spotted Chaser, which can be found all over Yorkshire. These have a body length of around 3cm and while they can sometimes appear rather drab in flight, a sight of one at rest reveals a subtle range of browns and gold colours. Males and female look very similar, though both have the characteristic two spots on each of their four wings.

Broad-bodied Chaser
The Broad-bodied Chaser is often the first species to colonise a new pond, and as the pond matures they sometimes desert it. This species is similar in size to the Four-spot but the males and females differ in colour. The broad blue body of the male with lines of yellow spots on either side is very distinctive, while the females have a broad golden body.

Emperor
The Hawker Dragonflies are the largest insects in Britain. With a body up to 6cm in length, the Emperor Dragonfly is well named as it really dominates its home pond. It is a very active flyer and rarely lands for more than a few seconds, unless it has caught a large insect that needs time and concentration to eat. Males have a blue abdomen with a black stripe and a bright green thorax, while females have a green abdomen.

Southern Hawker
The Southern Hawker is a similar size to the Emperor. Males have a mostly green abdomen with a distinct blue section at the tail end which is easy to see, even in flight. Southern Hawkers are inquisitive insects and will often fly very close to people as if to ‘check you out’.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Also by Martin Roberts...
The Dragonfly Season Draws To A Close
Making The Next Generation Of Dragons
The ‘Dragons’ Awake
Yorkshire Dragons
The Golden-ringed Dragonfly is the largest of all UK species, up to 6.5cm long. Its black and yellow colour scheme is unmistakable. This species is unlikely to visit the pond in your garden or local park and you will probably need to visit moorland or heathland to see one, where they fly around the acidic streams and bogs. It is well worth seeking out. Its black and yellow colours and its huge size can frighten some people into thinking it is the ‘Wasp from Hell’ but it is in fact completely harmless and does not have any sort of sting or jaws capable of hurting a person.

If you would like to learn more about Dragonflies in the Leeds area, you can visit Rodley Nature Reserve in Leeds, postcode LS13 1HP http://www.rodleynaturereserve.org

The range of species recorded here is so good that the reserve has been declared a ‘Dragonfly Hotspot’ by the British Dragonfly Society. The ‘launch event’ takes place on Saturday 22nd June, to coincide with the Leeds Bird Fair, also at the reserve, open from 9.30 to 4.00pm There will be lots of other wildlife interest to see and members of the Yorkshire Dragonfly Group will be there to answer your questions.

The Yorkshire Dragonfly Group will also have a stand at the York Insect Festival on 7th July in the Museum Gardens, York. Come along to say Hello and tell us about your Dragonfly sightings. https://www.royensoc.co.uk/event/insect-festival-york-2019-0

Height Of The Dragonfly Season, 18th June 2019, 13:38 PM