Dragonflies darting back
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]