Dragonflies and damselflies to discover in the Garden in June and July

A naturalist in the Gulbenkian Garden

42 species of dragonflies and 23 species of damselflies are known in Portugal. Here are four species to look out for at this time of year.
Wilder 21 Jun 2018 2 min
A naturalist in the Gulbenkian Garden

The summer months, especially sunny days, are the best time of year to find dragonflies and damselflies, elegant insects with metallic and iridescent shades and powerful eyesight. 42 species of dragonflies and 23 species of damselflies are known in Portugal. The former are usually larger, faster and have their wings open when at rest; the latter are more delicate and, when at rest, prefer to keep their wings closed or slightly open.

Here are four species to look out for over the coming weeks.

The lesser emperor dragonfly

Anax parthenope

© Andreas Eischler/Wiki Commons

Similar to other dragonflies, the lesser emperor has a great ability to fly, and it can be found hunting insects far away from water. The wings of Anax parthenope stay open and horizontal when at rest. It is one of 10 species of the Aeshnidae family that are found in Portugal and other countries in Southern Europe, North Africa and Asia.

The blue emperor dragonfly

Anax imperator

© Ferran Pestaña/Wiki Commons

This is another of the species of the Aeshnidae family that inhabit Portugal. The blue emperor is one of the largest dragonflies in Europe and can be found from north to south, almost always near places with plenty of water and surrounded by vegetation. It is usually easy to recognise, with its blue body, blue-green eyes and greenish sides on the thorax. These dragonflies can be up to nine centimetres long.

Scarlet dragonfly

Crocothemis erythraea

© Elgollimoh/Wiki Commons

This is a common dragonfly in Portugal and easy to identify, at least the males, which are an unmistakable bright red. The females and juveniles, on the other hand, are a brownish yellow. Look for these insects near areas with shallow water, especially in vegetation.

Willow emerald damselfly

Chalcolestes viridis

© Quartl/Wiki Commons

This metallic green damselfly breeds in areas of calm water bordered by trees or shrubs. It has the characteristic habit of spending a long time perched on tree leaves. When the time is right, it lays its eggs in the bark of willow or alder trees.


A naturalist in the Gulbenkian Garden

Once a month, over the course of a year, Wilder magazine revealed curiosities you shouldn’t miss in the Gulbenkian Garden and made a challenge: to discover and photograph or draw each discovery. The following year, based on the garden’s biodiversity and with the help of experts, we answered to several “how and why” questions on birds, insects, mammals, amphibians and plants.

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