Battling Damselflies

Dear Readers, the Large Red Damselflies are out in force today, and while you might think that a garden with a pond is a peaceful place, at the micro scale it’s nothing but small creatures beating one another up. Take this inoffensive looking male damselfly. There he sits on a leaf, occasionally cleaning his enormous eyes with his front legs, and looking as if butter wouldn’t melt.

And here are a loving couple. Well, as loving as you can be when a male has his claspers wrapped around your neck.

Still, although this looks a bit drastic, it’s the way that the male tries to make sure that the female doesn’t run off and mate with anyone else. She decides when it’s time to lay her eggs and flies off with the male attached, dashing her rear end into the water and letting go of a few eggs at a time.

However, the other male is waiting for just this opportunity.

Mating couple above, single male below

When the couple leave the leaf, the lone male flies up like a fighter plane, there’s a flurry of wings, and the ‘ownership’ of the female changes hands so quickly that you almost can’t see it. And then peace reigns again, briefly, until the next time.

What elegant creatures these are, though, and how it brightens my day to see them! They have been breeding in the pond every year for the past four or five years, and although their nymphs no doubt put paid to many tadpoles, they help to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Plus, I often see them at the front of the house, perched on the buddleia or flittering around the green alkanet. They are gradually dispersing, and hopefully they’ll colonise any other ponds that people have in the neighbourhood, much as the frogs are doing.

And fortunately the duckweed doesn’t seem to have slowed them up too much.  My husband is on duckweed duty every Sunday, and by every Saturday the blooming stuff is back. I wonder why it’s so bad this year, having been entirely absent last year? Another mystery.

Still, it hasn’t slowed up the flag iris.

And the honey garlic will be in flower soon…

And the climbing hydrangea is gently opening too – it has a very faint floral scent which is lovely in the confined space of the side of the house. A few years ago this was visited by ashy mining bees, and what a treat that was! So fingers crossed that they’ll be back, and that I’ll have the time to actually sit and watch them.



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