My heart skipped several beats when I saw this – for a second I thought I might be about to witness a dragonfly emergence. As soon as I turned the macro on it I realised that it was just an exuvia, but momentary disappointment was almost immediately replaced by fascination, as I examined the most perfect larval case I’ve ever seen. I can’t tell you exactly who the former owner is, but from the size, which is a couple of inches long, and the shape, it must be one of the Hawkers.
I never fail to be surprised by the distances some dragonfly larvae will travel in order to make their transformation: this exuvia was knee-high up a stalk that was perhaps three metres back from the edge of the pond, and a metre above the water level. For a creature that has spent its entire life under water to climb out into the air, scale a steep, muddy slope, and then carry on crawling until it finds the perfect stalk against which to brace itself, shows the strength of both its instinct and its determination.
I hope you find this vacated exoskeleton as interesting as I do (look at that mandible!!) – but if not, please address your complaints to the Management: R insisted that I simply had to post it, even though I found quite a few more attractive things on my early walk around Trench Wood, because I might never get another chance to show off something so unusual. Which doesn’t say much for his faith in my pond-keeping, I have to say, but let’s let that pass. If butterflies and hoverflies are more to your taste, you may like to take a look at the small collection I’ve put up on my Facebook page; on any other day I’d have been more than happy to feature either of the two images of a fresh White Admiral in my journal.
My most unexpected and welcome find at Trench Wood this morning was Hillyblips. We met at the pond, and not having seen each other since lockdown, we had a lot of catching up to do – but being the professionals we are, were able to talk each other’s ears off without interrupting our separate photographic missions. It’s not impossible that the Emperor HB blipped tonight may have been the owner of this exuvia, though I have a feeling that it more probably belonged to a Southern Hawker. If I can obtain an expert answer to that question, I’ll post an update later.