All photography and the narrative are by Chris Brooks

Dragonfly and Damselfly Habitats

By Chris Brooks


General Habitats

Dragonflies and Damselflies can appear at a wide range of varied habitats throughout the British Isles. Almost any body of water can support one, several or even abundant species at the same location.

These habitats include rivers and streams of all sizes and flows, stillwaters from large gravel pits to secluded ponds, bogs, pools, ditches, marshes, canals and seepages. Even mildly polluted or brackish waters can support the more hardy species.

Some species require minimal vegetation like the scarce Blue Tailed Damselfly, this is often aided by the heavy grazing of horses or cattle. Other species like the Emerald Dragonflies prefer partially wooded sites, while the Ruddy Darter and the Migrant Hawker show a preference for heavily vegetated sites. These factors will define what species occur at individual waters.

The waters and species below are meant as a guide for the southern half of the United Kingdom and are by no means a definative or exhaustive list.


Gravel PitsĀ 

These are some of our newest and largest stillwaters and have come about from large scale extraction for the once booming construction industry. These waters mature relatively slowly after abandonment but are quickly colonised by abundant wildlife.

Gravel pits can support Black Tailed Skimmers, Broad Bodied and Four Spotted Chasers as well as Common, Brown, Southern and Migrant Hawkers. Finally not forgetting the majestic Emperor.

Damselflies can also be abundant on bank side vegetation, including the Common Blue, Azure, Blue Tailed, Red Eyed, Large Red and Emerald to name but a few.

Peaty Bogs and Seepages

These sites can be prolific, where abundant species can be seen in relatively close proximity to each other.

The Keeled Skimmer and Small Red Damselfly can thrive in the peaty and boggy environments, provided there is plenty of dense low lying waterside vegetation.

Also the Emerald and Large Red Damselflies, Black and Common Darters, Black Tailed Skimmer, Broad Bodied and Four Spotted Chasers, and Emperor Dragonflies can be present. Some sites can support over 20 varieties throughout the season, attracting the most common species to the rarer migrants.

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