I’m emerald with envy

A female Common Emerald showing the typical resting position, wings spread, which gives them their alternative name of spreadwings

Looking at Katie’s blog (see comments) I’m impressed, and definitely envious, that she has seen Emerald Damselflies in her garden.

Emerald damselflies in general are specialists of ponds that dry out or have big drawdown zones. Until recently there were only two species in Britain the Common Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) and the Scarce Emerald Damselfly (Lestes dryas) which is much less common and, in the UK, restricted to East Anglia.  But over the last few years two other species have joined the British fauna: the Southern Emerald Damselfly and the Green Emerald Damselfly.

Emeralds are not, as far as I know, so often seen in gardens, though they are fairly common animals – we found them in about 1 in 6 high quality ponds in the National Pond Survey. We’ve so far found none in the Abingdon garden ponds – perhaps not surprising seeing that only two of the ponds we’ve looked at have a significant drawdown.  And looking at the location of Katie’s pond – it seems to be pretty much out in the country.

Common Emeralds were, however, abundant around the New and Old Pill on Otmoor when I visited last week. These two ponds are much more like the typical habitat: drying out in drought years with big drawdown zones. And of course absolutely top notch sites as well.

Although the Common Emerald is relatively common, it doesn’t like damaged habitats so much: in degraded ponds we’ve only found it in about 1 in 20 sites.

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One Response to “I’m emerald with envy”

  1. Katie Says:

    Hi Jeremy. Thanks for the link. The Emerald was a bit of a surprise for me! I don’t often see them anywhere, it has to be said.

    I haven’t seen any Emeralds in the garden since, so I wonder if it was a ‘vagrant’? There are several ponds/lakes of varying size within 1km of the garden, and at least one (surrounded by grassland) has some draw-down at the moment. So I wonder if she came from there?

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