Nature lovers’ guide to dragonflies

Common blue damselfly by Alan Wright.
Common blue damselfly by Alan Wright.
  • Book is great companion for novices
  • Useful maps help spotters
  • Pictures identify different dragonflies

A bug’s life is there for the taking if you like to stroll along the canal or down by the river.

Spectacular dragonflies and damselflies add splashes of colour to any pond, lake, river and canal and when the sun shines they are abundant.

Twenty-four species have been recorded in Lancashire and North Merseyside – eight damselflies and 16 dragonflies – just less than half of all the species in the United Kingdom.

To help us identify and understand these beautiful insects, two of the county’s foremost naturalists Steve White and Philip H Smith have published The Dragonflies of Lancashire and North Merseyside.

The book is a great companion for novices and more experienced spotters who want to know about the insects captured in their binoculars and cameras.

The pair have gathered thousands of records of 389 observers mainly covering Lancashire and North Merseyside, although 4,000 records from Greater Manchester are also included in some of the maps.

Species in the region include the vividly named emerald damselfly, red-eyed damselfly, emperor dragonfly, golden-ringed dragonfly, four-spotted chaser and red-veined darter. A total of 19 species are known to breed in the region with high hopes for the yellow-winger darter and the lesser emperor.

Illustrated with pictures of the relevant insects and areas, and with useful maps of where they have been recorded, Steve and Phil also go into the history of recording and factors affecting the distribution.

Both have worked with Lancashire Wildlife Trust to restore areas like Heysham, Mere Sands Wood and Brockholes in Lancashire, creating perfect habitat for a wide range of creatures including dragonflies.

Watching groups of common blue damselflies in aerial displays over water, or spotting dragonflies heading purposefully between plants, certainly makes for fascinating viewing.

Buy the book, priced £10, or get more details from the Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society at All money goes to the fauna group.