Dragon­flies dart­ing back

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

IT’S good to see that Teesside’s drag­on­fly pop­u­la­tion seems to have fully re­cov­ered fol­low­ing last year’s end of sum­mer wash-out.

I’ve seen a lot of dragon­flies this time around, and by far the most nu­mer­ous at the mo­ment is the com­mon darter.

This crack­ing pic­ture of a male com­mon darter was taken by John Money.

The com­mon darter is not only abun­dant through­out Teesside but it is one of the most com­mon dragon­flies in Europe. The males are usu­ally red and the fe­males yel­low­ish

We see them fly­ing mainly from June to Novem­ber, but in the south­ern part of their range they can be spot­ted in the air all the year round.

They are ter­ri­to­rial, but away from ter­ri­to­ries can gather in huge num­bers. I saw lots of them soak­ing up the sun along a stone wall while on a walk around Noster­field Quarry near Bedale.

You also of­ten see them sun­bathing on a gravel path. They will keep mov­ing ahead of you while you walk along, while they also have favourite perches to which they will

■ return on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The com­mon darter is slightly dif­fer­ent from the av­er­age drag­on­fly in that it does not lay its eggs di­rectly into ponds, but the male holds the fe­male above the water and the eggs are dropped into the water.

While all dragon­flies are preda­tors and can be quite fe­ro­cious to look at, they do not bite peo­ple. Cap­tured crea­tures have been known to pinch hu­man flesh but they can’t break the skin.

How­ever they are se­ri­ous preda­tors of fly­ing in­sects such as mos­qui­tos, gnats and midges.

In this re­spect it’s a pity that ticks don’t fly, be­cause the warm­ing cli­mate has ap­par­ently led to a pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion of these nasty lit­tle crit­ters.

Ticks are re­spon­si­ble for spread­ing Lyme Dis­ease, which can be a de­bil­i­tat­ing ill­ness, so it’s not some­thing youy want to find at­tached to your­self or your dog.

I had to prise one from my own dog the other day, which was a bit up­set­ting, while my son went walk­ing on Scot­land the other week and found three on his body one night.

Ticks are mainly found in fields fre­quented by sheep, where they stand on the edge of veg­e­ta­tion wait­ing to jump on board any un­sus­pect­ing host who brushes past. So tuck your trousers into your socks when­ever you go coun­try walk­ing.

Fi­nally, Derek Whit­ing writes to ad­vise read­ers when driv­ing around Whin­stone View to be ex­tra care­ful be­cause a fam­ily of young pea­cocks is strolling around the area.

Eric would like to hear from read­ers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­[email protected]

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