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The Golden-ringed Dragonfly

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Author(s): Wootton. Robin; Year published: 2020; Origin: Member-contributed; Pages: 
Topic(s): dragonflies and entomology; Location(s): Dartmoor

Dragonflies are fascinating insects – large, glamorous, amazingly skilful aerial predators, with complex, racy behaviour, full of sex and violence and belonging well after the 9 pm watershed. One of Devon’s most spectacular is Cordulegaster boltonii, the Golden-ringed Dragonfly. Its larvae live in acid streams and upland rivers, so one can find it on Dartmoor, typically between June and August. It is very handsome but slightly intimidating – long and slender, striped in yellow and black like a wasp, and the female has a long ovipositor that looks like a sting. A dialect word for dragonflies is ‘horse-stingers’ – a quite unjustified slur.

Dragonfly females lay their eggs in various ways, but Cordulegaster is unusual and fun to watch. The female hovers low over the stream for minutes on end, with its body vertical, bobbing up and down like a pogo-stick, dipping its ovipositor repeatedly into the water. I recorded this video-clip on a joint Entomology Section/British Dragonfly Society field trip to Prewley Moor, near Sourton, on August 4 2019. Enjoy.


Robin Wootton
14 October 2020