© Bill Black

Build a pond and help some of our more fearsome predators - dragonflies

The ponds in Alderney are home to quite a few species of dragonfly and damselfly at this time of year. Some of these species visit from further afield – the powerful wings on some of the larger types mean they can reach around 10mph – while others breed locally.

Damselflies are generally slimmer and when they rest their wings stay closed whereas dragonflies rest with them wide open. You may also see some types of dragonfly, in particular the large bright emperors, quite far away from water, while damselflies will not stray far.

People can be quite surprised by the fact that dragonflies eat other insects, hunting their prey on the wing. Prey can include small flies and mosquitos but can be as large as butterflies for some species! Dragons themselves are predated by frogs, birds, in particular the acrobatic hobby which can catch dragonflies in flight.

Building a pond, even something small, with some native marginal plants around the edges will help dragon and damselflies along with many other insects. The plants on the edges give the larvae somewhere to emerge as they crawl out from the pond and they transform into their adult form. When they first emerge their bodies are very soft and fragile so some pond vegetation gives them a safe place to get strength up. Marginal and floating plants also give the adults somewhere to rest and lay their eggs. Good plants include aquatic bistort, frogbit, marsh marigold and loosestrife.

Do let us know what makes its way into your pond if you build one!