New dragonfly species spotted in Britain

A wildlife enthusiast in Suffolk has photographed a dragonfly species that has not been seen in the UK before.

Yellow-spotted emerald dragonfly. © Andrew Easton

Dragonfly enthusiasts will need to add an extra species to their list after a yellow-spotted emerald dragonfly, Somatochlora flavomaculata, was spotted in Britain for the first time.

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It was photographed at Carlton Marshes, a Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve, by local wildlife enthusiast Andrew Easton. It was later identified by James Lowen, a nature writer, photographer and BBC Wildlife Magazine contributor.

“I didn’t have a dragonfly identification book with me to work out which particular species of emerald dragonfly it was,” says Easton, “so I decided to tweet out one of the pictures I had just taken and see what suggestions came back. It was a huge surprise to receive the news that it appeared to be a species never seen in the UK before.”

The yellow-spotted emerald dragonfly is usually found in wetlands in continental Europe, including northern France and stretching east to Siberia and Mongolia.

Although this species is not known for migrating long distances, it is thought that the easterly winds during spring and summer assisted in this individual’s journey to Suffolk.

The fourth record of a large white-faced darter in the UK © Christophe Brochard
The fourth record of a large white-faced darter in the UK. © Christophe Brochard

This record follows another sighting of a dragonfly species in the UK, after a large white-faced darter, Leucorrhinia pectoralis, was found at Landguard Bird Observatory (also in Suffolk). This was the fourth record of this species in the UK.

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“This photograph illustrates the valuable contribution wildlife photographers make to conservation,” says Eleanor Colver, conservation officer for the British Dragonfly Society. “Records, such as this, help our scientists map the appearance of non-native species across the country and better understand dragonfly migration”.