Damselflies and Dragonflies are hitting the skies over wetlands this spring

Have you gone for a wander around a freshwater wetland lately or even a dam? Well, if you haven’t I suggest on the next sunny day that you do. Apart from avoiding the scaly things ‘that slip and slide around’ and the things that ‘suck your blood’ (like leeches and mosquitoes), there are an amazing array of damselflies and dragonflies flying at the moment. This year I’ve decided (as we’ve had such a good wet season) to visit a small selection of wetlands in the district each month and document (photograph and count) the species and what time of year they are flying (or flight periods).

Identification of these water bugs I’ve always found difficult but with a good digital camera in hand with a zoom lens we can bring ourselves up close and personal with these wonderful creatures without disturbing them. A few reference guides have come out for Victorian Odonata (Odonata is the Order of insects of which damselflies and dragonflies are classified) and there is an Australian field guide too, and of course the internet can help. So for those of you that spend time out in the bush in south-west Victoria and south east South Australia, the following species are flying at the moment. (Note: all photos are of males)

Dragonflies

Australian Emperor (Hemianax papuensis)

Australian Emperor (Hemianax papuensis)

Wandering Percher (Diplacodes bipunctata)

Wandering Percher (Diplacodes bipunctata)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Australian Emperor is our largest and the Wandering Percher is our smallest dragonfly. The male Percher is red and the female yellow to grey.

Blue-spotted Hawker (Adversaeschna brevistyla)

Blue-spotted Hawker (Adversaeschna brevistyla)

Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum)

Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blue-spotted Hawker is similar in size to the Emperor but note the body colour and side stripes!

The last of the big five is the common and widespread Black Emerald (or Tau Emerald)

Black or Tau Emerald (Hemicordulia tau)

Black or Tau Emerald (Hemicordulia tau)

Damselflies

The common differentiation between damselflies and dragonflies is that a damselfly can fold/lay their wings down along their bodies, whereas dragonflies can’t, they are always fixed at 90 degrees.

Red and Blue Damsel (Xanthagrion erythroneurm)

Red and Blue Damsel (Xanthagrion erythroneurm)

Aurora Bluetail (Ischnura aurora)

Aurora Bluetail (Ischnura aurora)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Bluetail (Ischnura heterosticta)

Common Bluetail (Ischnura heterosticta)

Swamp Bluet (Coenagrion lyelli)

Swamp Bluet (Coenagrion lyelli)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Swamp Bluet is only documented to occur in Victoria, but we’ve now found them in a wetland in SA!!! Don’t tell anyone.

Eastern Billabongfly (Austroagrion watsoni)

Eastern Billabongfly (Austroagrion watsoni)

Blue Ringtail (Austrolestes annulosus)

Blue Ringtail (Austrolestes annulosus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inland Ringtail (Austrolestes aridus)

Inland Ringtail (Austrolestes aridus)

The Inland Ringtail is new to me and has only been only seen in November in Bangham and Wimmera districts so far.

Yet to emerge is the smallest species of all, the Ancient Greenling damselfly (Hemiphlebia mirabilis) – which of course is NGT’s logo! This one I have previously seen from late November, but as the season for butterflies and cicadas is later than normal, I suspect they might be too.

If you’d like to come out sometime when we’re doing a survey of a swamp let me know. Contact:

Bryan Haywood
Bryan Haywood


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