The mighty Emperor

In dragonflies, males are generally classed as fliers or perchers. Fliers spend most of their time on the wing – and have longer wings – whereas perchers spend most of the time sitting on a perch, from which they make short flights, defending territories and seeking females. The emperor dragonfly, Anax imperator Leach (Aeshnidae) is…

Dancing demosielles

There are four species of these beautiful Calopteryx damselflies belonging to the family Calopterygidae, in Europe, and two occur in Britain: the Beautiful and the Banded demoiselle (below). There are also a number of subspecies of each type. In this blog I am featuring a Spanish subspecies of Calopteryx virgo, called meridionalis, and Calopteryx splendens from Bedfordshire in…

Why are some young leaves red?

Mark Cocker’s Country diary piece in the Guardian this week, 1 June 2021 (‘the most seductive shade of green‘) got me thinking about leaves, trees and colours. As Mark reminded us, leaves look green because chlorophyll molecules absorb the red end of the visible light spectrum in photosynthesis, and the unused green light is reflected. Counterintuitively perhaps, they are green…

Insect antennae V.

This blog is dedicated to Andreas Kay (1963–2019), a remarkable biologist and natural history photographer, some of whose photographs I have included below. I never met Andreas, but like many people, I followed him on Facebook and marvelled at his photographs documenting the diversity of life in Ecuador.  He generously shared over 28,000 of his…