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The charity making life better by water


Dragonflies are the raptors of the insect world. To us humans, the brightly coloured creatures are an integral part of summer.

Dragonfly in the air

To other insects, and even small fish, the dragonfly is a voracious hunter from the time it first hatches as aquatic larvae to its peak as a flying adult.

This militant behaviour is understandable when you consider that the dragonflies' predecessors stalked the earth almost 300 million years ago, pre-dating birds by some 150 million years. Today, dragonflies are still widespread throughout the UK, especially in the southern counties.

During the breeding season they stay close to waterways such as canals, rivers and ponds, but at other times they can be spotted almost anywhere, in woods, gardens or even houses. Some species have a specific set of requirements to breed and flourish, and they tend to accumulate in one geographical area. Thus the Norfolk hawker is most often found in or around Norfolk.

The reed fringes of many of our canals and rivers provide excellent breeding sites and hunting grounds for dragonflies. So our maintenance programme involves the creation and improvement of canal banks with dragonflies in mind.

In the past, any work on canal banks would have involved steel sheet piles. Today, with our greater emphasis on habitat creation, soft banks are created either using coir roles or hazel faggots. This allows the growth of reed fringes, ideal habitats for many species of insects, particularly damselflies.

We also support the work of the British Dragonfly Society.

Family nature guide 2019

Download your free nature guide

Identify footprints and read fascinating facts about the creatures who make their homes along our canals and rivers

Last Edited: 16 November 2020

photo of a location on the canals
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