Now here's a creature I haven't covered on the blog before, and what a beauty. It's not one I've ever had in my garden, but it is a widespread dragonfly and does turn up at some garden ponds. I photographed this one at Walberswick in Suffolk this time last year.
Dragonfly fans will have identified it immediately, because there is no other in this country that has black spots both middle and end of the leading edge of the front wing. By my reckoning, that gives it eight black spots, so why it's English name is the Four-spotted Chaser is somewhat baffling.
You can tell this is a female by that luscious golden front half of the abdomen. It's almost like amber, with those ripples of gold within it like honeycomb, and then merging into the dark tail end which is like the caramel sauce on a creme caramel. Yes, to me the Four-spotted Chaser almost looks edible!
As for those illuminated yellow lights down the side, that's just classy design don't you think?
The Four-spotted is found on in all sorts of wetlands, from bogs on heathland to fens and even canals, but they can be big wanderers too, with some migrating here from the Continent. No wonder then that they can turn up in gardens.
The adults fly from late May to August, the males (which have a darker abdomen) staking out a territory by sitting on a prominent twig or stem and launching out like a missile to check out any passing dragonfly.
So keep your eyes peeled, enjoy their stunning beauty when you find them, but don't use them to help kids learn to count!
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