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Wicklow Mountains National Park


Dragonflies and damselflies are large flying insects, many of which are brightly coloured. Dragonflies and damselflies are closely related and look very similar but there are differences. Dragonflies at rest hold their wings out horizontal like an aeroplane. Damselflies hold their wings over their back when they rest. Typically damselflies are also smaller and daintier than dragonflies. Adult dragonflies and damselflies are fierce predators that hunt other flying creatures. Their larvae live in water, and hence the adults are found near water - lakes, ponds, rivers and bogs are all good places to search for dragonflies. A survey of dragonflies and damselflies in the Park found eleven different species. Below are profiles of four of these species.

COMMON BLUE DAMSELFLY (Enallagma cyathigerum)

As its name suggests, this is one of the commoner species of damselfly, and can easily be seen at the Upper Lake in Glendalough in the summer. Often large numbers can be found together in the long grass and vegetation at favoured sites. The underwater larvae can take up to 4 years to develop, although if conditions are good they can grow to adulthood in one year.


This damselfly likes clean fast-flowing streams in acid areas and is intolerant of pollution. A colony of them can be found by the stream between the two lakes in Glendalough. Only the males have the unusual dark patches on the wings, but the females have a metallic green body that is also distinctive.

COMMON HAWKER (Aeshna juncea)

Hawkers set up territories that they patrol continually as they look for flying bugs to prey upon. They are impressive creatures as they fly back and forth over their patch and well worth watching for a while as you sit in the sun.

FOUR-SPOTTED CHASER (Libellula quadrimaculata)

This is a dragonfly of the bogs. The larvae live in bog pools and ditches, and take two years to mature. The adults can often be found flying over the bog, but also, curiously, in woods and heaths quite far away from their pools.