Sunday, 30 May 2010

Water soldiers

After two years of doing very little the water soldier Stratiotes aloides populations in the ponds have exploded.

They're proving very popular with lots of the species that frequent the ponds:

common frog

the hoverfly Helophilus pendulus

larva of the broad-bodied chaser dragonfly

large red damselflies in tandem

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A poor choice of plant

Each morning I go down to the ponds a couple of times to look for newly emerging dragonflies and damselflies (big advantage of working at home). Until now I'd found lots of exuviae and lots of recently emerged individuals, but had never caught one in the act of emerging. I was quite surprised (and pleased) to catch this broad-bodied chaser larva climbing up a stalk of mint.

Unfortunately the mint proved difficult to climb, the larva fall back in the water and was unable to climb out again before the dragonfly emerged, on its side. At this point I think that the wings were damaged and although she did manage to climb a little she died a few hours later.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


I'm very pleased to tell you that the broad-bodied chaser survived the night and that as of around 9am this morning she opened her wings. I think it's now only a matter of time before she'll be warm enough to take flight.

20th May 09:20

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I was wrong

It turns out that despite the cold, wind and rain a brave broad-bodied chaser has decided to emerge from one of our ponds today.

Female broad-bodied chaser Libellula depressa at




Her wings seem close to fully developed, but it's now 19:20 and still she hasn't opened them. There was very little heat earlier in the day and I suspect it's too cold for her to take her maiden flight now. Hopefully she'll make it through the night, but I'm not sure what her chances are. Fingers crossed.

Watery wildlife

The weather here has been much warmer this week and as a result the plants are beginning to bloom and insects return.

Our first damselflies of the year began to emerge on May 17th and continued on the 18th. It's pouring down with rain this morning so I doubt that there will be any more emerging today.

These are large red damselflies Pyrrhosoma nymphula and their exuviae:

Each time I bent down to look for damselflies this frog leaped to the safety of the pond:

The water crowfoot is flowering for the first time (though admittedly there's only one flower so far) in the larger pond:

The bugle and marsh marigolds are almost past their best now, but hopefully the yellow flag iris will flower soon and provide some more colour around the ponds.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Larvae in a log

The back garden has been a bit neglected over the past couple of weeks. First the weather was so dry that I spent my time desperately watering the garden to stop the plants from dying and then the rain came and the weeds multiplied and grew. Today I managed to get out and begin finding the plants bordering the pond. Between the plants and the water are a number of rotting logs and whilst weeding nearby part of one collapsed, exposing several beetle larvae.

These are the larvae of the lesser stag beetle. Unlike the larvae of the greater stag beetle that live in logs buried underground, lesser stag beetle larvae are usually found in logs above ground, often in great numbers. Although there are a few other species whose larvae could be confused with those of the stag beetle, these can be identified using the guide to larvae on the Great Stag Hunt website.