I was replenishing the bird feeders today when my attention was caught by a large, apple green dragonfly which I later identified as a Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea).
There was no male nearby but she had obviously been fertilised. She was clattering her wings quite noisily and seeking a place to lay her eggs. Rather than depositing her eggs on water plants she was ovipositing in the moss growing between the bricks on the bridge.
Sometimes Southern Hawkers will lay eggs in rotting wood or on reeds.
Here she is jabbing her ovipositor into the moss.
You can see her damaged wing quite clearly here on the left of the photo.Though they breed late summer in vegetation near water they hunt well away from water and can often be seen late into the summer evening hawking through woodland rides. They are very common in southern and central England and Wales, but scarce in Scotland and only visitors to Ireland.
The eggs hatch in the spring and the larvae then feed on tadpoles and invertebrates. After two or three years the adult will emerge to begin its busy, merry life.
On close inspection of the photographs we discovered that our garden visitor had a damaged wing so I guess she is nearing the end of her short six weeks of life.
Aeshna means ugly or misshapen and cyanea means dark blue. The male is usually green with blue markings though sometimes all blue males are seen.
I don't think they're ugly at all - they're one of Nature's brightest jewels.
Thank you to Misty Dawn for hosting this meme. To see more Critters please go here.