Dragonflies and Damselflies in Sussex
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).
Club-tailed dragonfly © Bob Eade
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.
Hairy dragonfly © Dave Sadler
Dragonfly larvae live for anything up to three 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.