Emerald of the North


Flanders Moss NNR

In continuing the theme of the last  blog posts this one is about invertebrates again. Flanders is home to a number of special bugs. Geographically it is very important because it offers a southern foothold to northern species found in the Highlands and also a northern foothold to southern species that have never spread into the Highlands.

One of the former is the Northern Emerald, Somatochlora arctica . This is a fairly large dragonfly that gets its name from its beautiful metallic green colouring. And its northern distribution of course. It is a bog specialist and only found in northern Scotland with Flanders being the most southerly population in the UK. The larva live is sphagnum pools and soggy bits of the bog where it creeps through the flooded sphagnum jungle munching other insects that it comes across and sometime taking 3-4 years to reach maturity. What a contrast to its dashing, dramatic adult form.

It was only discovered at Flanders 10 years ago and we are still finding out more about its distribution. Last week I was delighted to find this female sunbathing in a new area of Flanders about 2km from where it had been recorded before. Is it expanding under our restoration management which is making the bog wetter and more suitable? Or has it always been there and just not spotted before? I don’t know but regardless it was a pleasure to enjoy its company for a short while.

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