June is busting out all over
Well, it’s certainly all happening down at the pond. The wildlife are almost taking over. After the millions of tadpoles came the newts, popping up to the surface for a breath of air then diving back down. There seem to be more great diving beetles this year including some smaller ones which I take to be babies, or more probably something altogether different.
Then a couple of weeks ago we started to see the damselflies, red ones and blue ones. Firstly singly then more recently coupled together as they lay their eggs around the marginal plants.
But the great delight has been over the past few days as I was able to witness the amazing metamorphosis of the scary looking nymphs into that most beautiful of flying machines, the dragonfly.
These early ones are Southern Hawkers. Later on we’ll get Gold Ringed and the magnificent Emperor, which ‘patrols’ around the pond, checking out who’s daring to swim in their territory!
So back to the Hawkers. The first thing to see are the nymphs waiting in the water for the right time to clamber out and up an iris leaf. We make sure there are always sufficient tall stems for them – leaving last year’s flower spikes on the purple loosestrife for instance.
Once up the leaf they somehow cling on and start to dry out in the sun.
Now the magic really starts, firstly a thin white line appears on the back of the nymph and the head and eyes force their way through the narrow opening.
Once the head is out, the body starts to emerge ….
…slowly, very slowly, the body sort of wriggles its way further into view.
Then in the blink of an eye it flips up and grabs hold of the now empty nymph case – just missed that bit with the camera!
At last it looks a bit like a dragonfly.
It takes a while for the wings to fully dry out and fill their final shape
Apparently this is the last time those wings will be in that position.
Then a final ‘battery charging’ with wings fully extended…
..and it’s gone. leaving behind just the empty case.
A fantastic experience and one which could easily be missed. Fortunately they emerged across three of four days so I was forewarned when the later ones were due and was poised with the camera.
I’ll be keeping an eye open for any further larva cases in the hope of seeing an Emperor emerge.
What a wonderful wildlife pond! It pays to work with nature.