Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
(1/320th sec at f11. Approx 1.6x lifesize. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
(1/400th sec at f11. Approx 1.6x lifesize. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
(Approx 1.6x lifesize. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
(1/640th sec at F11. Approx 1.6x lifesize. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
Wingspan: 64 - 80 mm; body length: 40 - 48 mm
A medium-sized dragonfly. The sexes are alike, with a brown abdomen becoming darker towards the rear, a brown thorax and brown eyes. There is a row of yellow spots along each side of the abdomen. The most noticeable feature is the colouring of the wings. The nodus (half-way along the leading edge of each wing) has a very dark spot, which gives the insect its name. The wing bases are also dark. A colour form "praenubila" has a general darkening of the wing tips.
The Four-spotted Chaser is found throughout the British Isles.
It can be found in a wide range of standing waters, but the largest populations are associated with acidic heathland pools. It rapidly colonises new sites.
Mating occurs in flight, and is very brief. Eggs are laid in flight. They hatch after about four weeks and the larvae live in decaying plant debris. Nymphs take at least two years to mature into adults. The flight period is from late May to July.
Males are aggressively territorial, taking up positions on bankside or emergent vegetation, from which they launch missions to chase intruders or intercept a female. Favourite perches are usually around three feet off the ground, making identification and photography easy.
A common and widespread species.