Species of the month

Species of the Month: Golden Ringed Dragonfly

Golden ringed dragonfly © Margaret Holland

Help us with our wildlife surveys

Our Species of the Month species surveys are an important way you can help us.  Records are sent to DERC (Dorset Environmental Records Centre) who collate this information to build up a picture of the of the state of Dorset's wildlife. So please help us help wildlife by filling in the form below. Thank you!

July Species of the Month: Golden Ringed Dragonfly

Scientific Name: Cordulagaster boltonii

Identification

The Golden Ringed is a large dragonfly with a striking appearance.  Easy to recognise, it has a black body with vivid yellow hoops and bright green eyes.   

The aquatic larvae are brown, squat and well camouflaged amongst the silt and plant debris on the riverbed.  They look like ‘mini-adults' but without their wings! 

Golden ringed dragonfly by Margaret Holland

Golden ringed dragonfly © Margaret Holland

Diet

Like all dragonflies, the Golden Ringed is a voracious predator both as an adult and larva.  The aerobatic adults catch large flying insects, which can include other dragonflies! 

The camouflaged larvae use stealth to ambush other aquatic invertebrates and even small fish!  

Behaviour

Adults are ‘on the wing’ between May and October.  The males are very territorial and will patrol and defend even small stretches of stream. 

Adults can be seen flying some distance from water, often hunting over nearby moors and heathland. 

Did you know?

  • At 84mm, the female is Britain’s longest dragonfly.  Her elongate ovipositor, used for laying eggs, makes her a few millimetres longer than the bulkier Emperor dragonfly. 
  • Golden Ringed dragonflies spend an incredible 5 years as larvae.  The adult, however, will only live between 1 to 8 weeks.  Just long enough to avoid being eaten, find a mate and breed! 
  • Adult dragonflies have an incredible 95% success rate when hunting!  This is better than many top predators, including lions (20%) and sharks (50%)! 

Where can they be found?

Acid streams, rivers and even small runnels on heathland, moorland and bogs.  

You may see a Golden Ringed dragonfly at one of our reserves, including: 

East Stoke Fen  

Troublefield 

Mill Ham Island 

Wildlife gardening tips

  • Make sure your pond has open water to attract adult dragonflies and it is important to include some emergent plants.  Larvae will use these to crawl out of the water and as a platform to moult into adults.  
  • Any sized garden pond is brilliant for wildlife, but to attract large dragonflies its best to follow the mantra ‘the bigger the better’! 
  • It is a good idea to have plants bordering at least one side of the pond to provide cover.  Include nectar rich plants to attract other insects and you will provide your dragonflies with a handy café! 

Join our campaign for more information on how you can help stop the decline of invertebrates:  Take Action for Insects  

Find out about other things you can do to help garden wildlife: Backyard Nature  

Species of the Month sightings form

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Blue tit © Stewart Canham