Gold-ringed Dragonfly

Gold-ringed Dragonflies have a mostly western distribution in the UK.
Photo: Peter Wood

Scientific name: Cordulegaster boltonii

Conservation status: Not threatened

The distinctive black and yellow bands that give this dragonfly its name are unique among dragonflies in Britain, making it relatively easy to recognise (the Common Club-tail also has yellow and black colouring but is much smaller). Other distinguishing features are the long ovipositor of the female and its two green eyes, which meet in a single point at the top of its head.

The only member of its genus here, the Gold-ringed Dragonfly is found mostly in western areas, becoming much scarcer in the east of both England and Scotland, and in Ireland. It is found above or near small and acidic running streams, between May and September, usually in heaths and moorland. This acrobatic flyer can also be seen away from water as it seeks out its food of flying insects. The larvae live in the sediment of the breeding stream for up to five years as aggressive predators before climbing out of the water on vegetation, shedding their skin and emerging as adults.

The photograph shows a male and female mating in typical posture: the male (at the top of the picture) has clasped the female behind her head, referred to as being ‘in tandem’. The pair will have assumed this position whilst in flight before settling on vegetation. The female lays her fertilised eggs in the stream sediment.

Did you know…?

…the long ovipositor of the female makes her Britain’s longest dragonfly

…the larvae hunt by ambush, hiding in the sediment waiting for prey to approach.

More information and references:

Chinery, M., 2004. Collins Complete Guide to British Insects. Collins, London.

Published: August 2013
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Peter Wood