BLOG: Dragonflies aka the 'unequal winged'

10 July 2019

This July The British Dragonfly Society is running it’s #DragonflyChallenge2019 asking people to learn more about these amazing flying critters, as well as try spot some of them whilst out and about!

All about Dragonflies

Dragonflies are insects in the sub-order Anisoptera (meaning “unequal-winged”). The term ‘dragonflies’ is sometimes used for the whole scientific order Odonata that also includes the sub-order Zygoptera (damselflies).

In Great Britain and Ireland there are about 30 species of dragonflies that may be encountered, and over 20 species of damselflies.

There are three stages in the life-cycle of all dragonflies: egg, larva (also known as a nymph) and adult.


Dragonflies like wet areas like bogs, canal, ditch, streams, lakes, ponds and rivers.

Trees and woods help to create important habitats for these winged insects. Woodland ponds especially are crucial for for dragonfly and damselfly reproduction and larvae. Hedgerows and woodland clearings also offer sheltered areas where the adults can breed and hunt flying insects.


Where and what to spot in Greater Manchester

In Greater Manchester good places to spot both dragonflies and damselflies are the mosslands in Salford/Wigan, part of the Carbon Landscape projectMoses Gate Country Park, Bolton's largest nature reserve, The Mersey Vallery areaMoorgate Quarry, OldhamWigan Flashes Local Nature Reserve, and Amberswood in Wigan, a 160 hectare nature reserve . Do check public access and accessiblity before visiting any site.

According to the Greater Manchester Local Records Centre (GMLRC) likely dragonfly species to spot across the region include; Four spotted chaser, Common darter (pictured) and Black darter. Climate change is bringing species further north with the Red-eyed damselfly a good example of a quite recent arrival.

In terms of damselflies you can spot; Banded demoiselle, Common blue damselfly, Azure damselfly, Blue-tailed damselfly and Large red damselfly.

Photo credit: By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, CC BY-SA 4.0,


...and further afield

Outside of Greater Manchester is Brockholes where nineteen dragonfly species have been recorded. Four-spotted Chasers can be especially common, the three ‘blue’ damselfly species are frequent at peak season, as are Brown Hawkers, Emperors and Migrant Hawkers.

Rixton Clay Pits in Warrington is also an excellent place to spot our flying friends.


Get involved

You can download the dragonfly challenge cards below and see how many you can spot.

You can also submit a sighting to the British Dragonfly Society.

Tag us in your dragonfly and damselfly pictures across Greater Manchester on twitter, facebook and instagram /cityoftreesmcr.