A medium-sized hawker dragonfly with a dark metallic bronze-green body, and emerald green eyes (brown when immature). The sexes are similar in appearance. A tireless flyer – males patrol breeding lakes and tarns at speed, just offshore. Their slightly head-down-tail-up pose in flight is noticeable. The hairiness of the thorax in particular gives the name ‘Downy’.
The Downy Emerald has a rather discontinuous British distribution, with scattered populations from southern England to the Scottish Highlands. It seems particularly associated with areas of ancient woodland. The species breeds in a variety of lakes and tarns in the vicinity of woodland, though avoiding really small pools. The rather long-legged spider-like larvae are weed-dwellers.
This dragonfly is a ‘Spring species’, emerging in May and often completing its flight season by early July. It has strong populations in Cumbria, where it is however limited mainly to lowland tarns in the south-central Lake District. 2006 produced breeding records from Derwentwater - the most northerly site in the county to date.
Photo: mature male - Henry Adams
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