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21 Jun 2018

Notable club-tailed dragonfly shopping at Arundel

Female club-tailed dragonfly, a nationally notable species, sits in the window of WWT gift shop.

While the wardens were out on a survey counting over 600 dragonflies of 12 species around the reserve at Arundel Wetland Centre last Thursday a rare dragonfly dropped into the visitor centre for a spot of shopping! Retail Manager and wildlife fan Jonathan Boon snapped a photo of the Gomphus vulgatissimus or club-tailed dragonfly while it sat in the shop window of the WWT gift store. This species is classified as ‘nationally notable’ as it only breeds on five UK rivers, Arun, Thames, Wey, Dee and Severn. On the Arun River system this dragonfly breeds near Palingham and around Fittleworth.  

Dragonfly expert David Chelmick confirmed from a photo that the dragonfly is a female club-tailed dragonfly. Paul Stevens, Reserve Manager at Arundel Wetland Centre said: “The appearance of a female club-tailed dragonfly confirms our suspicions that this species is breeding locally, at Arundel Wetland Centre.”

After Paul Stevens photographed a male club tail dragonfly at Arundel Wetland Centre in 2014 David Chelmick said “I believe the club-tailed dragonfly is breeding at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre. Their life cycle is 2-3 years, from egg to adult, which is likely why the sightings are two-three years apart.”

This medium sized dragonfly is easily identified by its club shaped tail and distinctly separate eyes. The eyes of most dragonflies meet on top of their head. Club-tails emerge yellow in colour. The males turn green as they mature, including their eyes, while the females remain yellow have a thicker abdomen.

The club-tailed dragonfly started showing up at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve at Arundel in 2011. David Chelmick, President of the British Dragonfly Society and a Fellow of Royal Entomological Society visited Arundel Wetland Centre in 2012 and declared that the channels and waterways in the wetland reserve are an ideal habitat for club-tailed dragonflies.

June is Bug Month at Arundel Wetland Centre.