The SNHS is conducting a survey of dragonflies in our Southampton recording area. The first completed year was 2001 and the full survey should be finished at the end of 2003. The first year produced many surprises including Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, Brown Hawker, Keeled Skimmer and Small Red Damselfly all within our area. The report of the 2001 survey is described in our annual SNHS report produced in the early part of 2002. The Society is very keen to receive all dragonfly records from the Southampton area (email to email@example.com). Below is a review article completed in 2000 ahead of the survey which contains some useful material. Note that several species not expected to be present when this was written were found subsequently!
Beautiful Demoiselle (BeD) Calopteryx virgo
Found along fast-flowing streams. There are very few records: reported from Nursling GP in 1964 and 1 male seen on 14/6/1981 was considered very unusual at that location, one female was at Woodmill on the 20/8/1978, reported from Mansbridge in 1982 and finally at Coxford Copse in 1987. More recent records would be welcome.
Banded Demoiselle (BD) Calopteryx splendens
Favours slow-flowing streams and rivers. There are a number of records from Mansbridge, Nursling Mill and gravel pits (‘swarms’ on 9/7/1977), Swanwick Reserve and Lower Test. More unusual records are 1 female at Chessel Bay on 3/8/1996, and one wind-blown into a Maybush garden on 21/8/1998. This species is perhaps fairly common in suitable habitat.
Emerald Damselfly (EDa) Lestes sponsa
Ponds, ditches, bog pools and lake margins. There are records from Nursling GP (1959, 1964, 1966 with ‘many’ on 7/7/1973), Lee GP (‘abundant’ on 30/7/1980) and Hacket’s Marsh, Burseldon where there were 5+ on 12/7/1992. This species appears to be locally common but more records are required to firmly establish its status in the area.
Large Red Damselfly (LRD) Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Ponds, canals and ditches, often found away from water. A very common species in the area, often found in gardens. The earliest species to appear (for example 22/4/1998, Itchen Valley CP). Recorded from many locations, for example, Southampton Common, Royal Victoria CP and Mansbridge.
Small Red Damselfly (SRD) Ceriagrion tenellum
Shallow bog-pools and streams. Reported Coxford Copse (1987) and Goldcrest Pond (1994). Presence in the area requires confirmation.
Southern Damselfly (SD) Coenagrion mercuriale
Slow-flowing streams on acid heathland and chalk. This is a rare species in Britain confined to the south and south-west of the country. A well known location is the Itchen Valley CP where the species is present in the area of a slow chalk stream adjacent to the river Itchen.
Azure Damselfly (AD) Coenagrion puella
Wide range of water-bodies. The most common damselfly in the area. A typical garden pond species appearing from mid-May. Numbers can build up rapidly in favoured locations (e.g. 40 at Westwood Woodland Park, 20/5/2000). Recorded from many locations including Mansbridge Reservoir, Netley Common, Chilworth Manor and Hum Hole Bitterne.
Common Blue Damselfly (CBD) Enallagma cyathigerum
Gravel pits, lakes, rivers, and ponds. Probably a common species in the area but relatively poorly recorded due to the difficulty of separating the blue damselflies. Southampton Common is a good location but also occurs at, for example, Mansbridge, Weston Common and Itchen Valley CP.
Blue-tailed Damselfly (BTD) Ischnura elegans
Garden ponds and many other fresh and even brackish waters. A very common species in the area and a typical garden pond species. Appears from around mid-May and has been recorded from many locations including Mansbridge, Bitterne, Woolston, Southampton Common, Chilworth, Hamble Common and Itchen Valley CP.
Red-eyed Damselfly (RED) Erythromma najas
Still water with floating vegetation. Very local in the area. A good location for this species is Priors Hill Copse where the insects can be seen resting on lily pads (first recorded at this site in 1991 and still found there in 2000). Other locations are the Swanwick Reserve (23/6/1994) and Kingfisher Lake, Testwood where there were c.10 on 24/6/1986.
Hairy Dragonfly (HD) Brachytron pratense
Clean still water-ways (ditches, canals). Apparently rare and very local. One female was recorded from Nursling GP on 16/5/1980 and stated to occur at the Itchen Valley CP (Hill and Twist, 1998). It also occurs just outside the region at Titchfield Haven. This is the first hawker dragonfly of the year on the wing.
Common Hawker (CH) Aeshna juncea
A heathland species in southern England. The status of this species is something of a mystery and there are strong possibilities of confusion with A. mixta. Recorded at Nursling GP (1 male on 12/9/1964), Dibden Bay (2 in pairing formation over a brackish pond on 17/9/1966), Nightingale Wood (1 on 23/7/1967), Lord’s Wood on 5/9/85 and Netley Common on 30/7/89.
Migrant Hawker (MH) Aeshna mixta
Ponds, lakes, gravel pits and rivers, but not heathland. Migrants increase the resident population in late summer. A late flying species with September being a good month to look for it. Possibly under-recorded in the region but there are records from Mansbridge, Lord’s wood, Netley Common, Shirley and Woolston gardens, Itchen Valley CP, Testwood Park and Dibden Bay.
Southern Hawker (SH) Aeshna cyanea
Ponds, lakes and canals. A typical garden pond species which is common in the area. Very late individuals can occur, for example 1 on 3/11/1996 at Southampton Common. Recorded from many locations including Bitterne, Woolston and Maybush gardens, Allington GP, Itchen Valley CP, Mayfield Park and Dibden Bay.
Emperor Dragonfly (ED) Anax imperator
Ponds, lakes, gravel pits, ditches. Sometimes seen at garden ponds. A common and impressive species with quite a number of locations in the area. Southampton Common, Lower Test Reserve, Westwood, Netley Common, Chessel Bay and Lee GP are among these localities.
Vagrant Emperor (VE) Hemianax ephippiger
A rare migrant with only 16 British records to 1998. Recorded at Dibden on 18/7/84 and Old Burseldon 2/7/90 (Parr, 1998, Atropos 5: 13-16).
Golden-ringed Dragonfly (GRD) Cordulegaster boltonii
Heathland streams. Something of a wanderer, this impressive species is quite often seen well away from its favoured habitat. Records include Netley Common, Westwood, Sholing Valley, Lord’s Wood, Hound Corner, Weston Common, Dibden Bay, Southampton Common, a Bitterne garden and Nursling GP.
Downy Emerald (DE) Cordulia aenea
Woodland ponds and lakes with overhanging trees. This is one of our most interesting species as it appears to have arrived in the area during the 1990’s. All of the records published date from 1990 onwards (recorded from a West End garden on 13/5/1990, Netley Common on 25/5/1992, Swanwick reserve, 23/6/1994, also reported from Southampton Common). The 1992 report lists five records for southern Hampshire stating that it seems to have increased suddenly. In 2000 the species was found to be presumably resident at two locations – Priors Hill Copse and Shirley Pond where insects were recorded in June. There are quite possibly other locations in the area.
Four-spotted Chaser (FSC) Libellula quadrimaculata
Bogs, gravel pits, ponds and streams. There are records from Nursling GP in 1963, a wanderer in a Maybush garden on 8/7/1971, Moorgreen Meadows on 26/6/84, one ‘perhaps a wanderer’ at Lee GP in 10/7/1984 and reported from Southampton Common. Its status in the area is uncertain and any recent records would be interesting.
Broad-bodied Chaser (BBC) Libellula depressa
Ponds and ditches. A common species often found at garden ponds. One of the earliest species to appear (e.g. 8/5/1994). Recorded from many localities including: Bitterne, West End and Woolston gardens, Southampton Common, Nursling GP, Mansbridge, West End Copse, Lower Itchen Valley, Netley Common and Southampton Sports Center.
Black-tailed Skimmer (BTS) Orthetrum cancellatum
Lakes and slow rivers. Appears to be locally common: a female/immature wandered to a Maybush Garden on 12/7/1983, Allington GP 27/7/83, four males were at Lee GP on 10/7/1984, Lower Itchen Valley 11/7/84, Westwood 8/8/93, ‘numerous’ at Swanwick Reserve on 23/6/1994, three males and two females were at the Lower Test on 8/8/1996 and 4 were at the Itchen Valley CP on 20/6/1998 . Larvae were reported at Southampton Common boating lake on 21/7/2000.
Keeled Skimmer (KS) Orthetrum coerulescens
Rivers, streams and pools in peat bogs. Requires confirmation. One male was reported from Nursling GP on 7/8/67 and also reported from Southampton Common, but no further details.
Common Darter (CD) Sympetrum striolatum
A wide range of water-bodies. The most common dragonfly species in the area recorded from most water-bodies in Southampton and surround. Large numbers are sometimes recorded e.g. 50, Westwood on 8/10/95, many ovipositing.
Ruddy Darter (RD) Sympetrum sanguineum
Shallow ponds and lakes often in woodland. Reported only from Nursling GP on 28/8/1966, Weston Common in 1994, 1 male was at Hum Hole, Bitterne on the 18/8/1996 and 1 at Southampton Common on 11/8/1998. Probably under-recorded, possibly increasing.
Black Darter (BlD) Sympetrum danae
Shallow pools in heathland, adults wander widely. A teneral female was reported from West Horton Farm Wood, Fair Oak (475182) on 4/8/2000. Just outside the area this species has been reported from the Dibden Bottom area 10/8/67, ‘very plentiful’ there on 7/9/80 and also reported there on 30/8/93.
Yellow-winged Darter (YWD) Sympetrum flaveolum
Rare migrant. One was reported from Itchen Valley CP during the big invasion of this species in 1995.