To celebrate British Dragonfly Week (17 - 25 July), read all about dragonflies and where you can find them at the lakes!

Dragonfly or damselfly? 

How do you identify a dragonfly? Dragonflies are very fast and larger than most damselflies. They also tend to hold their wings spread out from their body. Another good identification tip is if you can get close enough, look at their eyes: in dragonflies they tend to meet on top of the head, but in damselflies the eyes are separate. Don’t forget you can use your birding binoculars to view closer!

Dragonflies do not like cold, windy weather, because they need the sun to help warm up their flight muscles. They will dart around any wetland habitat, which is why our reservoirs, ponds, rivers, bogs and wet grasslands are great places to spot them!

Many dragonflies and damselflies, like many insects, rely on good quality habitats. By making your way to your local reservoir, pond or river, you should see at least one species of dragonfly. Summer is a fabulous time of year to see them!


Golden ringed dragonflies are mostly yellow and black with large greenish yellow eyes. This species looks like it has golden rings around its body and golden stripes below the head. If you see these golden rings, you are unlikely to confuse it with any other species!

This dragonfly usually lands and sits on a perch to eat its prey, so this is the best time to spot it!

This photo was taken by our Environment and Engagement Ranger, Lucy, at Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor.


Lots of dragonflies have a yellow-brown colour pattern, and most are similar sizes which can make them difficult to distinguish. However, the Four-Spotted Chaser is easy to pick out amongst the crowds, because they have four spots or black blobs on the wings, which no other dragonflies have!

These are usually smaller than 50mm and tend to have a brown, dull coloured face.

You can see these until late summer at our lakes.


The black darter dragonfly is almost totally black as a male, and yellow and black as a female. The mature males are the only pure black dragonfly we have in the UK and so are unmistakeable, although younger males can have yellow colours. These are the smallest of our resident dragonflies.

This species particularly likes moorland sites such as our reservoir at Crowdy. You can see these until late summer.

If you spot any dragonflies at the lakes, share your pictures with us @swlakes. Happy wildlife watching!

You can find out more about dragonflies on the British Dragonfly Society website.

#ItsYourOutdoors - come and explore!