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Scottish dragonflies

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What delicate beauty there is in natures engineering and not more so than the exquisite dragonflies and damselflies found throughout Scotland and our own NTS properties. There are 23 species currently recorded in Scotland, and many of these are found on various NTS properties.

Species such as the southern hawker dragonfly continues to expand its range northwards, so it is always worth keeping an eye out for species that may not have been recorded in a locality. Surveying for dragonflies in Scotland is not always easy as weather conditions are often harsh. Dragonfly surveyors in the Highlands have become known for their use of the white kitchen colander! – as this provides the perfect surveying tool to dredge the sphagnum bog pools in search for dragonfly larvae.

The life cycle of dragonflies and damselflies is mostly spent underwater in this larval stage, but it is when the insects climb out of their underwater domain to emerge as adults that their winged beauty is fully appreciated. The patterned bogs and sphagnum moss pools on the NTS Inverewe estate alone support a total of 12 species, including such rarities as the white faced darter and stunningly blue azure hawker dragonfly, that both have an early flight period in the spring.

The ‘flight pond' at Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire has an astounding total of 10 species of dragonfly and damselflies at this one site. This is the only place where both the northern damselfly and the azure damselfly are found in the same place, alongside the common blue damselfly; but you will need to carefully to identify them from each other. The NTS is carrying out wetland habitat work at this site to provide ideal conditions for the damselflies and dragonflies and has created a new pond in the process. Monitoring work at this site is one of the most intensive and consistent in Scotland and continues to inform our knowledge of these beautiful creatures.