Hunting With The Damselflies

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

I have been watching these beautiful damselflies for quite  sometime as they flitter about my garden pond. The are on the hunt. They will find a favourite perch and then when a small fly comes into their airspace they make a go of catching it. They are not always succesful, but this one was. I think it may have caught a plant louse of some kind, and it didn’t waste any of it.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Quite messy eaters though. You got a bit stuck there … yes just there … above your top lip …


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

Making Hearts

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

There is still a lot of activity around the garden pond, as can be seen in the above image.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) mating, rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Gone Full Cycle

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

From the female I observed last June laying eggs in my garden pond, to the hatched larvae which lived beneath the still water, to their emergence in spring as adults, and now they have gone a full cycle. Here we have a mating pair of  the Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), ensuring the perpetuation of the species.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

 


Garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Over Still Waters

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

After emerging from my garden pond the damselflies appeared to have gone off to greener pastures. But they appear to be returning back home, and here is one waiting for small flies to come by to snap out of the air to eat as food, resting on an iris leaf stretched across still waters.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Just Emerged

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula newly emerged

Out in the garden this morning, and as always I go to see what’s happening around the pond. I switch on my pump, which has no filter and is open, and helps oxygenate the pond, although I think the oxygenating plants are doing a good job, but the sound and movement of water is always relaxing. And what do I notice? A freshly emerged Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). drying out in the early morning sun. It’s larval skin which can be seen on the other side of the tube in partial shade, discarded like an old suit. It was lucky it hadn’t gone up in a jet of water when I initially switched the pump on!

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula newly emerged

It must be the main season for emergence as I discovered lots of these freshly emerged damselflies clinging to pond plants with their old larval skins nearby.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula newly emerged

Below, here is one that was made earlier, and is still reluctant to fly until it gets used to its new life out of the water and living in the air.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

Please click on the images for a larger, more detailed view.


Edit: Walter, who runs an excellent blog with some astoundingly detailed photographs of dragonflies has observed that this is a female, as indicated by the prominent ovipositor visible on the ventral side of the tip of her abdomen. You can visit his blog via Walter Sandford’s Photoblog.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) newly emerged, rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

 

Before Emergence

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula final moult

Today has been another exceptionally hot May day, and this afternoon I noticed quite a few recently emerged Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) on plants around my garden pond. And I was delighted to find one which had left it’s larval skin behind.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula final moult

Dragonflies and damselflies don’t go through a pupation stage similar to other insects like butterflies and moths. Final-stage larvae may sit for several days in shallow water getting ready for their final moult, breathing air. The larvae climb up vegetation near the water’s edge and secure a perch for emergence. In the above images one individual has done just this, and climbed  a fair distance to find a good spot for the final transformation. Amazingly, in this state they redistribute their body fluids and push out first their thorax, head, legs and wings. These are allowed to harden before the abdomen is finally withdrawn, which in turn needs time to harden. Transformation is complete, and an adult is born.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

In the images directly above and below, things may have not gone quite to plan for this newly emerged damselfly. Note how the exuvia (the cast skin), is still attached. The wings have not fully retracted and are trapped within. It may eventually free itself, but until then it will not be able to fly and is at the mercy of predation.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

In a future post I will combine some of the images to show the life cycle which has, to my great surprise, taken 11 months from egg to adult.


Rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

Emergence II

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

The teneral damselflies are still coming and appearing around the pond. This one could hardly fly at all.  It was clinging to a stem of my Water Mint. I like the way the light catches the wings and brings out the colour spectrum.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

Please click on the images for larger, mored detailed views.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) teneral, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

Say Cheese Please!

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) tenerals, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

Emergence

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

Out in the garden today, and with blue skies and wall to wall sunshine is was time take the first photos of May. I sat by my pond, and within a couple of minutes I noticed a small damselfly resting on my Yellow Iris growing in the pond. It was in an awkward position to photo, so I thought I might risk coaxing it with my finger into a new position. It actually gripped the end of my finger and allowed me to place it elsewhere. It was very small, and when it flew it flew weakly and didn’t fly very far.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

Then as I took a few snaps of it, I noticed a few others on bushes and plants near the pond. They were all the same species, the Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), and appeared to be tenerals, newly emerged. Most of them seemed quite happy to just hang around in the sun as can be seen from this series of images.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

Knowing I had Large Red Damselfly nymphs in my garden pond I did wonder whether these had developed from here, but they had only been there for a year, which might just be long enough, I guess.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

Please click on the images for larger, mored detailed views.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) tenerals, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

How They Have Grown

Large Red Damselfly – Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Please click on the image for a larger view.

The light was not so good late yesterday afternoon, but I was determined to try and get a photograph of one of the many Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) larvae which inhabit my garden pond in its natural setting. This one was on a stone in the shallows near the pond’s edge. I cannot believe how quickly they are growing since I first saw them last August.

Nighttime Pond Activities

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) early nymph

I have just popped out to the garden pond to see if there was any nightlife there, maybe a frog or a newt. No, not tonight. But to my utter surprise there was 30 to 40 or more of these Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) larvae on rocks beneath the water apparently feeding on algae. I have seen one or two during the day, but now realise these are very much nocturnal feeders, and didn’t realise how many there were in there. The image of the nymph above was taken last year, so they have grown since then.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) female laying eggs

I think it all goes back to last year  when I spotted this female Large Red Damselfly laying eggs at the bottom of my Water Mint. Apparently they can lay up to 350 eggs at a time!

Large Red Damselfy Nymph

This morning when I went to have a look at my garden pond under an overcast sky, peering close at the submerged rocks and stones I noticed a few of these early stage damselfy nymps.

My mind went back to June when I saw a Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) female laying eggs at the base of my Water Mint. I consulted one of my many books to see if it was the larva of this damselfly, and I believe it is.

These are just a little smaller than a common garden ant, and can be quite a challenge to photo, especially on an overcast day and submerged in pond water, so I removed one specimen and placed it in a crock dish to have more control over the conditions. It was released back into the water unharmed after it had completed its photo shoot.

I could have to wait for up to 3 years for the larvae to develop into mature flying adult damselflies.

Photographs  taken of Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) early stage nymph in August 2016, rear garden pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.