Sunday, August 28, 2011

Revenge of the Odontates

Went back to Blarney lake the last day to get some more pictures of the dragon and damselflies that live there before winter sets in and they disappear, surprisingly the species I found last time seem to have declined or disappeared entirely and have been replaced by a large population of ruddy darters. All in all we saw about 50 of these very picturesque dragonflies (below).

Very approachable species and quite easy to capture on camera as well, perhaps the only downfall is their tendency to sit flush with the ground making side profile shots difficult. They are quite territorial and jealously defend their patch of about 2 meters from passersby. I know very little about insect behaviour but my guess would be that the dragonfly with the best territory gets the girl. There was plenty of egg laying couples present as well bobbing up and down together over the water’s surface. Very interesting!

The drastically smaller population of damselflies that remains consists of the same species I saw here before, namely blue tailed, common blue and azure. There may have been variables too; frankly telling them apart gives me a migraine! (Some of the ones below may be wrong). 
Blue tailed damselfly

Azure damselfly

I thought this was quite interesting, a pair of blue tailed damselflies mating and getting attacked by an azure damselfly. Weird behaviour! Perhaps this again is a territorial dispute but the damsels generally don’t seem that fussed over territories, maybe these species are in competition for egg laying spots. Heck, maybe he crash landed!


Finally we spotted several emperor dragonflies, the largest dragonflies I have ever seen in Ireland and also a bit nightmarish in appearance. It’s as big as my fist and flies around in quite an aggressive manner. The fact that it buzzes while doing this and comes quite close at times doesn’t help either. Instinctive caution aside it is actually harmless to humans (obviously). The females seemed busy looking for the best lilies to lay their eggs under. Unlike the darters and damsels the pairs aren’t attached whilst laying eggs. Not sure if this is a trait of their subfamily or if they are simply too heavy to do so. Interesting to compare the three species and their different methods of egg laying though.
If ever there was a competition for perfect predator then the massive emperor would be a prime candidate.
Female laying an egg
Oh yeah, almost forgot about the butterflies. Quite like the red admiral below, delighted to get a non cropped picture of one of these beautiful butterflies before they too disappear.
Common blue

Red admiral buttefly, one of several on a thistle bush

1 comment:

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