This week’s What’s on the van? comes from Zoë Simmons, from the Museum’s Hope Entomological Collections.
The Golden-ringed dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) is one of the largest UK species of an order of carnivorous insects called Odonata. It is easily identified by its striking black and yellow stripes.
This dragonfly lays its eggs in shallow, running water; acid bogs and seepages are a particularly good habitat for this species. The larvae then take between two and five years to mature. The adults are strong fliers and can take down fairly large prey on the wing such as bumblebees or butterflies.
This is the only species of the Cordulegaster genus to be found in the UK. The family to which they belong have the common name of ‘Spiketails’ because of the large ovipositors, or egg-laying organ, possessed by the females.
As with all British species of Odonata, the Golden-ringed dragonfly is under threat from habitat loss and degradation. The shallow runs and seepages of bog areas which are one of the favoured habitats of this species are threatened by a number of things including peat cutting practices, drainage programs that create pasture for grazing animals, invasive tree species, rut making vehicles such as mountain bikes, and excessive levels of trampling by cattle, horses and people.
Many of these ecological problems – and more – occur in other kinds of habitats too and as such there is little refuge for our native Odonata species. However, there have been initiatives in recent years to protect dragon and damselfly habitat areas. More information can be found on the British Dragonfly Society website.