Wetlands support a vast and diverse range of insects, which in turn provide food for a huge range of other species. Just watch a Hobby catching a dragonfly in-flight and you will be amazed. There are some fascinating wetland insects including the water scorpion, the water spider, and the Sussex diving beetle. Some of our more notable aquatic insects are described below :-

Fen raft spider

First discovered in Britain in 1956, this large aquatic spider has been recorded from Pevensey Marshes, East Sussex since 1992. It is classified as Endangered and given full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is also declining across much of its mainland European range.

Dragonflies & Damselflies

Sussex is home to some beautiful dragonfly and damselfly species, some of which breed and some which are seasonal migrants. There are a number of notable dragonfly populations in Sussex and individual species are often associated with specific habitats, such as the black darter which is confined to acid heathlands.

The club-tailed dragonfly (Gomphus vulgatissimus), also known as the common club-tail, is anything but common in the UK and is a very special dragonfly for Sussex. Although it is the most widespread Gomphid species in Europe, the species is listed as nationally vulnerable in the UK. The River Dee supports the most northerly population, and it is found on seven river systems; five of which rise in the Welsh Uplands (the Dee, Severn, Wye, Tywi and Teifi) and two in Southern England (Thames and Arun).

Less common species in Sussex include the variable damselfly, hairy dragonfly, Small red-eyed damselfly, Small red damselfly, club-tailed dragonfly, golden-ringed dragonfly, downy emerald, brilliant emerald, scarce chaser, keeled skimmer, black darter and the white-legged damselfly (which is considered a good indicator of pollution). The first record of the southern emerald damselfly (Lestes barbarus) in Sussex was recorded in 2011.

Dragonfly larvae live for anything up to 3 years before emerging as dragonflies, so the muddy sediments at the bottom of ponds and other less obvious unpolluted habitats can be important for the conservation of dragonfly and damselfly species.

For more information contact the Sussex Dragonfly Society or download our leaflet on How to manage your land to encourage Dragonflies and Damselflies.

Sussex Diving Beetle

Previously recorded in south Hampshire, West Sussex, east Kent and south-west Yorkshire, this species appears to have become extinct everywhere in its British range except the Lewes Levels, where it was rediscovered in July 1996.