Between May and September London’s streams, rivers and ponds light up with the dazzling, darting flight of dragonflies and damselflies. These impressive insects, collectively known as Odonata, thrive where the water is clean and are a great indicator species of healthy ecosystems.

Despite being such attractive and fascinating insects, little is known about their distribution across London. By understanding where dragonfly and damselfly species live we will be able to judge how healthy, or unhealthy, London’s freshwater habitats are.

Dragonflies and damselflies spend most of their lives as predatory, subsurface larvae, dependent on a good supply of aquatic insects to feed on. This means they can be very sensitive to poor water conditions. As adults they are also highly mobile, quickly colonising new habitats as water quality improves, or as climate change opens up new territories.

As part of our Water for Wildlife project we are asking Londoners to join us as Dragonfly Detectives, to help us map dragonflies and damselflies across Greater London. If you see a dragonfly or damselfly you can add it to our online database. It’s easy to do and every sighting will help us build a better picture of the health of London’s streams, rivers and ponds, helping us protect these precious, but fragile, environments.

Images and descriptions of many dragonfly and damselfly species can be found on the Wildlife Trust's website here.

A comprehensive database of dragonfly and damselfly species can be found on the British Dragonfly Society website here

 

Not sure what you've seen?

If you have a photograph of a dragonfly or damselfly and wish to identify the species please email the image to odonata@wildlondon.org.uk or contact us via on Twitter at @WaterForWild. You can also upload photos on the survey page. 

We can also identify dragonflies and damselflies by examining their exuvia. This is a case that is left behind when an adult insect emerges from its pupa, and can be found in vegetation near water. Identification can tricky, but if you send us the exuvia together with your contact details, we should be able to tell you what species it is.

Pack your exuvia carefully (they're fragile, use a small box) and send them to: Water for Wildlife, London Wildlife Trust, Dean Bradley House, 52 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 2AF

 

Multiple records

If you have multiple records that you would like to submit, you can download the Recording spreadsheet here and email them through to London Wildlife Trust’s Water for Wildlife team at odonata@wildlondon.org.uk. 

 

We ask for your contact details in case we wish to follow up your sighting now or in the future. 

Submitted records are entered into the Greenspace information for Greater London (GiGL) database on behalf of London Wildlife Trust by GiGL, who manage this form.  They are provided to London Wildlife Trust for their work and shared with GiGL partners and others who have signed data use agreements, for their own work, including conservation, research, education and planning control.  A list of GiGL partners and examples of projects can be found on the GiGL website.

Species data (accompanied by your name but no other personal details) will be uploaded to the National Biodiversity Network Gateway by GiGL.