More than one-in-three dragonflies and damselflies recorded by the public have been spotted in private gardens – suggesting garden ponds are a vital habitat for these wonderful winged insects.
Even small ponds, with good vegetation, can support dozens of dragonflies and damselflies. As well as being fascinating to watch, they act as a natural form of pest control, munching on mosquitos and midges on warm summer evenings.
Dragonfly Detectives – part of London Wildlife Trust’s Water for Wildlife programme – was launched in 2016 and has already helped the Trust paint a picture of where dragonflies and damselflies live in the capital.
Rivers, streams and reservoirs all play a vital role for conserving these magnificent insects, but garden ponds have perhaps previously been overlooked as a habitat. The most commonly recorded species so far have been southern hawker, emperor dragonfly, and common darter. One particularly rare find was the red-veined darter recorded at Woodberry Wetlands.
Petra Sovic Davies, Water for Wildlife project manager, said: “Thanks to sightings from Londoners we know that ponds in gardens can support dozens of dragonflies and damselflies. During the first two seasons of Dragonfly Detectives we heard about common darters resting on garden furniture, southern hawkers flying into kitchens and conservatories, and emperor dragonflies dashing across residential streets. Garden ponds allow these insects to breed and subsequently turn up in unexpected locations. If you have a pond it doesn’t take long to check what’s living there – you might be surprised with how much wildlife it supports!”
There are 57 species of dragonflies and damselflies in Britain; more than half have been recorded in London, and changes in climate and improvements to the quality of riverside habitats suggest this number may increase. Londoners can share their sightings online via wildlondon.org.uk/dragonfly-detectives.
Dragonfly Detectives is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Thames Water.