NOW is the season for damselflies to be on the wing.

Evolving more than 300 million years ago, they are comparatively 'new kids on the block' as their cousins, the larger, more robust dragonflies first appeared on earth around 400 million years, even before dinosaurs evolved and of course they are still with us today, whereas dinosaurs died out about 60 million years ago!

Nature Notes: Admiring the aerobatics of swallows

My favourite insect is the banded demoiselle, our largest damselfly (male pictured) while the female is a beautiful iridescent mid-green and lacks the bands on her wings. The species is at home on slow-flowing water and can be seen in quite large groups fluttering around, the male using his deep blue banded wings as semaphore to attract females or deter rival males from his territory.

Eggs are laid into water plants below the surface and nymphs take two years to mature before emerging as perfect insects. Favourite haunts are the river Wandle in Morden Hall Park and Beverley brook in Richmond park. Apart from the banded demoiselle there are six other species found locally.

Nature Notes: The delight of birdsong

Many years ago their slim abdomens earned them the name 'devil's darning needles'. All can perch on vegetation but not walk because their spiny legs point forward forming a sort of aerial fishing net into which they catch prey as they fly. Its great to take a mindful moment or two to watch damselflies going about their business.