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Adelaide's Dragonflies

Home > Adelaide > Animals and Wildlife | Outdoor
by Barry Silkstone (subscribe)
I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet. Visit my blog
Published January 31st 2023
Dragonflies: Adelaide and Africa
Over the last month (December 2022) in South Australia, I have noticed a huge upsurge in the dragonfly population. Our unusual weather patterns this year have probably affected their breeding cycle which usually ends in September. Two of the more common species we are seeing are the Emperor Dragonfly and the Blue Skimmer. Dragonflies are not to be confused with their more slender relatives the Damselflies.

Dragonflies, Africa, Entemology, insects, South Australian wildlife, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Blue Skimmer dragonfly

There is a definite upside to this seasonal phenomenon as dragonflies consume hundreds of mosquitoes each day and the late, wet conditions will certainly result in an increase in numbers of these unwelcome and dangerous little insects.

Dragonflies, Africa, Entemology, insects, South Australian wildlife, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Aurora Bluetail Damselfly

Dragonflies are found all over the world and some of the most beautiful examples I have encountered are in Africa. African Safaris are usually about the big things; vast plains and rivers, elephants, buffalo, lions and gargantuan crocodiles. While these are spectacular animals there is a world of smaller creatures that live on the African continent, not the least of which are the insects. And, when it comes to insects, the dragonflies are one of the most attractive and beautiful of creatures.

Orange-winged Dropwings male and female South Luangwa National Park Zambia

On a recent trip to the South Luanga National Park in Zambia I spent a couple of days around the camp due to an injury and roamed the area photographing both butterflies and dragonflies. This pair of male and female Orange Dropwings (male is orange) was hovering near the bank of a local river. I waited for a while and eventually they settled on a branch jutting out from the water and I took the shot; a great example of sexual dimorphism in the insect world.

bee eater,
Carmine Bee-eaters are one part of the food chain which naturally controls insects numbers (Africa Victoria Falls)

Like many insects, dragonfly populations have markedly decreased over the last few decades due to the use of pesticides which are vital to agriculture and pest control. Unfortunately, these techniques result in killing off everything in an area rather than simply the pest species. If we are mindful of the fact that insects provide an essential part of the food chain and without them many bird species would become extinct and plants remain unfertilised, we may be able to find alternative or more specific ways of safeguarding crops and controlling unwanted pests.
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Why? Interesting information about a local phenomenon
When: December 2023
Where: All over Adelaide
Cost: None
Your Comment
I look for the dragonflies and damsel flies in our local wetlands every year but this year they have been there in great abundance. I even see them frequently in our own back yard.
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (score: 4|10456) 40 days ago
The Adelaide Japanese Himeji Gardens on South Terrace are dragonfly central. They are absolutely delightful to watch - however I would never attempt to photograph them. Thanks for your amazing images and article.
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1988) 48 days ago
AMAZING photos!
by mytsl (score: 2|208) 50 days ago
Fascinating information about African dragonflies. Where are the best places to see Adelaide dragonflies?
by Julia Wakefield (score: 2|109) 53 days ago
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