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The Dragonfly Season Draws To A Close
Martin Roberts, Dragonfly Correspondent
Ruddy darter
It’s now mid August and sadly the end of the Dragonfly season is approaching, though some hardy individuals could still be flying until mid-October, or even later if we have a very mild autumn.

The Dragonfly species that appear in the later part of the season include Common, Black and Ruddy Darters, and Migrant Hawkers, plus one Damselfly species, the Common Emerald Damselfly. Occasionally, as in 2018, we may also see some Red-veined Darters, a migrant species from the Continent which may soon become a resident.

Black darter
The Darters are relatively small Dragonflies which typically can be seen flying and returning repeatedly to the same perch on a branch or stem at the water’s edge. Common and Ruddy Darters are widespread across Yorkshire but Black Darters are mainly confined to areas with acidic pools such as Skipwith Common in the east or moorland areas in the north and west. Red-veined Darters tend to prefer shallow ponds or scrapes where the water can be easily warmed up by the sun.

Migrant Hawkers are the last of the true Dragons to appear. Years ago, most individuals were thought to migrate into the UK each summer but they are now resident and breed here quite commonly. Their main distinguishing features are the very small shoulder stripes between the head and the wings and the pronounced yellow ‘golf tee’ mark at the front of the abdomen.

Migrant Hawker
Common Emerald Damselflies, the last of the Damselfly species to appear, can be confusing as they do not conform to the general rule of thumb that Damselflies rest with their wings closed along the abdomen, while Dragonflies rest with their wings held open at right angles to the body. Emerald damselflies tend to hold their wings half open (or half closed if you prefer). They are currently the only green Damselfly you are likely to encounter in Yorkshire, though another green Damsel, the Willow Emerald is steadily spreading northwards and has been recorded in North Lincolnshire for the first time this summer.

Emerald Damselfly
Another Dragonfly, the Southern Migrant Hawker, has only rarely been recorded in Yorkshire but in 2018 it started to spread out from its stronghold along the Thames estuary, and this movement seems to have continued during 2019. This beautiful insect is a large, strong flyer and I hope that the individuals seen in recent weeks at Flamborough, Spurn and Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve near Castleford will breed and thus add another species to our county list of resident species.

Also by Martin Roberts...
Height Of The Dragonfly Season
Making The Next Generation Of Dragons
The ‘Dragons’ Awake
Yorkshire Dragons
So, sadly this is my last article about this fascinating group of insects. I hope you have enjoyed reading about them and perhaps have tried to spot a few while out walking this summer. If you would like to develop your interest, do check out the Yorkshire Dragonfly Group website (www.yorkshiredragonflies.org.uk) or visit their Facebook page for all the latest news about what is flying and where.

The Dragonfly Season Draws To A Close, 11th August 2019, 20:42 PM