Dragonflies

Quicklink: Checklist of dragonflies from the ELZ

Dragonflies and Damselflies are the two suborders of the order Odonata in Australia. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia gives an excellent overview of their biology and ecology.

Their fantastic array of colours, and their wonderful symmetrical patterns, can be readily appreciated with the help of a long-zoom digital camera. Their spectacular flying ability makes it easy to while away many an hour of quiet observation at the water’s edge. Quite a few species can also be found while roaming throughout the general area.

Some basic points are as follows:

  • Damselflies are generally slender, weak fliers with similar forewings and hindwings.
  • Dragonflies are generally stouter, faster fliers with dissimilar forewings and hindwings.
  • There are three life-cycle stages:
  •  Eggs are laid (oviposited) in water, some species into mud or soft plant material, others species directly in the water. In some species the male links in tandem with the female during oviposition to ensure ‘his’ fertilized eggs are laid without interference from other males.
  • Larvae are aquatic and gradually grow through 9 to 15 stages The final instar moves out of the water for the final stage of metamorphosis.
  • Adults emerge from the final larval instars and move away from the water for 1 to 4 weeks until they reach maturity. Males then establish territories near water and await the arrival of a female mate. There can be serious territorial competition between males and they are seldom still for long. Adults have almost 360 degree vision. They are predators, usually catching moths etc. on the wing.
  • Flight periods vary for most species but the best months are from November to March. Some species have very limited flight periods. Ideal observation weather is full sun and above 26°C.

There are 75 species recorded in Victoria. About 40 of these could be expected to be found in the ELZ. Of these, 16 are damselflies and 24 dragonflies.

An article about the Southern Riffle Darner in the Bend of Islands (6.4MB PDF), published in the Victorian Naturalist, November 2014, describes a great record for the ELZ.

List for the ELZ

A list of species likely to occur in the ELZ can be downloaded here. This version should be treated as a working document. It is based on interpretation of species’ distribution data from the various references listed.

Further References
The following websites have lots of photos and easy-to-follow identification information.
Australian dragonflies  (use the search box, with scientific name, to access many photos of each species)
Online field guide to Victorian dragonflies
Wildiaries guide to Australian dragonflies

Feedback
If anyone finds an unusual dragonfly, or needs some identification assistance, contact Frank Pierce at jmandfp@bigpond.com as a first step. Referral to others with better knowledge may be required!

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