Having checked her markings, I’m fairly confident that this is a different female Southern Hawker to the two who oviposited at the wildlife pond on Monday. It’s pretty exciting that in its first season our pond has proved attractive to at least three different dragonflies, as well as to the damsels who took advantage of it earlier in the summer. I’m definitely not wishing the rest of this season away just yet, but once autumn arrives I’ll be on tenterhooks wondering how things are going down in the bottom of the pond, and whether we’ll get any emergences next season.
Thanks to the rain we’ve been having, the wood in the log pile is fairly soft, and she injected most if not all of her batch of eggs there. The Southern Hawker is unusual in being prepared to place her eggs away from water (although Southern Migrant Hawkers are also known to oviposit in cracks in the mud of dry ditches). Most other large dragons oviposit into submerged vegetation in the water bodies where their larvae will develop, but Southern Hawkers are renownedly indiscriminating, and will use any substrate in the vicinity that’s soft enough to be pierced by their ovipositor – over the years I’ve personally had eggs injected into the tops of my shoes and the fabric of my trousers, and stories like that are commonplace among dragon fanciers. The eggs are said to remain dormant over the winter and hatch in the spring, when the larvae presumably make their way as quickly as they can to the nearest water.
The fact that a female Southern Hawker will try to lay her eggs on (or in) a human also tells you something about the mindset that takes them over when they’re ovipositing: they become virtually oblivious to anything other than the need to lay their eggs. It’s still possible to disturb them from their work if you move towards them too quickly, especially at a very contained site like our pond, but if you move slowly and behave respectfully you can get pretty close without them appearing to care.
This evening R and I watched The Peanut Butter Falcon – Cardiff’s nomination for Lockdown Family Film Club this week. I cannot recommend it too highly – honestly, if you haven’t seen it yet, just find a way to watch it, because it’s utterly charming. It was written as a vehicle for the actor Zack Gottsagen, who has Down’s Syndrome, and who totally justifies the faith the film-makers placed in him. I only vaguely knew who Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson are, because I’m old and all young actors look alike to me, but LaBeouf was also excellent, and Dakota Johnson was likeable in a less demanding role.