21st July 2017, by Paul Barclay
Last week was National Dragonfly Week and it’s the perfect time of year to go looking for these amazing insects.
Dragonflies – and their close relatives damselflies – are incredible creatures. The ancestors of our modern dragonflies evolved before dinosaurs walked the Earth, some 300 million years ago. However, they were much bigger then, with wingspans of up to two feet!
While we don’t get them quite that big anymore the common hawker, which you can find all around Cumbernauld, is still a pretty impressive beast that resembles a miniature helicopter as it patrols around ponds.
Although we think of them as flying insects, they actually spend most of their lives living underwater in their larval stage. So if you would like to see dragonflies and damselflies on the wing in Cumbernauld then head for water.
Dragonflies are superb fliers, they hunt on the wing and are probably the most efficient hunters on the planet. 95% of dragonfly hunts end in a kill, compared to just 30-40% for species like lions or sharks. And when you consider that a dragonfly can eat hundreds of midges every day, we’ve reason to be thankful for their hunting prowess.
They’re also just as ferocious predators under the water as they are above it. Look for quiet, still ponds where the territorial males will be patrolling for food and mates.
Cumbernauld has some great sites where dragonflies and damselflies thrive. St Maurice’s Pond, Ravenswood and the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Cumbernauld Glen reserve are all great places to try to spot them.
If you do see any then let us know on the Cumbernauld Living Landscape Facebook page.