Dear Readers, nothing is ever simple when you’re a wildlife gardener. Today there were half a dozen pairs of Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) laying their eggs in the pond, which, as mentioned on several occasions, is pretty much covered in duckweed this year. However, have a look at this little film and see exactly what the female is doing…look away for the first few seconds if you’re prone to sea-sickness but it does steady down after that.
It looks to me as if she’s quite deliberately laying her eggs under the duckweed leaves, which means that we really shouldn’t be clearing them at the moment. On the other hand, if they completely cover the pond the oxygenating plants won’t be able to photosynthesise, so that won’t be good for the pond either.
What also interests me as that towards the end of the film, you can see another tandem pair of damselflies heading in. Apparently in this species, the sight of one pair laying their eggs seems to attract other pairs – maybe there’s safety in numbers, or maybe the sight of one pair laying indicates that this is a suitable spot. It might also indicate that frogs, one of the damselfly’s most important predators, are not around at this particular bit of the pond.
Apparently the eggs hatch in two to three weeks, so I think the answer is maybe to just clear away a window so that the light can get into the pond, and worry about a bigger clear out later on. Getting the balance right between one thing and another is tricky, and too much meddling can cause more problems than it solves. Still, having too many damselflies reproducing is a quality problem for sure.
And then, I was thinking about cutting back the marsh marigold, but as I passed about 6 frogs jumped out from under its droopy leaves, so I think I’ll leave that as well. By the sound of it, I’ll just be able to put my feet up at the weekend….