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Dragonflies and Damselflies
These are the two suborders of the order Odonata in Australia. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia by Gunther Theischinger and John Hawking gives an excellent overview of their biology and ecology.
Their fantastic array of colours and wonderful symmetrical patterns can be readily appreciated with the help of a long-zoom digital camera. Their spectacular flying ability makes it easy to while away many an hour of quiet observation at the water’s edge. Quite a few species can also be found while roaming throughout the general area.
Some basic points
Damselflies are generally slender, weak fliers with similar forewings and hindwings
Dragonflies are generally stouter, faster fliers with dissimilar forewings and hindwings
3 life cycle stages
Eggs are laid (oviposited) in water, some species into mud or soft plant material, others species directly in the water. In some species the male links in tandem with the female during oviposition to ensure ‘his’ fertilized eggs are laid without interference from other males.
Larvae are aquatic and gradually grow through 9 to 15 stages. Eventually the instar moves out of the water for the final stage of metamorphosis
Adults emerge from the final larval instars and move away from the water for 1 to 4 weeks until they reach maturity. Males then establish territories near water and await the arrival of a female mate. There can be serious territorial competition between males and they are seldom still for long. Adults have almost 360 degree vision. They are predators, usually catching moths etc. on the wing.
Flight periods vary for most species but the best months are from November to March. Some species have very limited flight periods. Ideal observation weather is full sun and above 26C.
There are 75 species recorded in Victoria. About 40 of these could be expected to be found in the Bend of Islands: 16 damselfly species and 24 dragonfly species. Many of these will occur on the Co-op but some species will only be found near the river.
List for the Co-op & Bend of Islands
The Dragonfly List for the Co-op & Bend of Islands is a list of the species likely to occur on the Co-op & in the Bend of Islands. This version should be treated as a working document. It is based on interpretation of the distribution data from the various references listed.
Frank Pierce’s article about the Southern Riffle Darner dragonfly in the Bend of Islands, published in the Victorian Naturalist, November 2014, can be seen here (6.2MB pdf).
The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia gives an excellent overview of their biology and ecology.
Dragonflies and Damselflies of Victoria and Tasmania covers all local species.
If anyone finds an unusual dragonfly, or needs some identification assistance, email Frank Pierce as a first step. Referral to others with better knowledge may be required!