The Canal & River Trust has warned that the wettest winter on record could have had a lasting impact on populations of dragonflies and damselflies in Rugby.
The trust is asking people to help monitor the insects as part of its annual Great Nature Watch, which began last week.
Fluctuating river levels and fast currents are known to wash away dragonfly larva. As larva live underwater for up to three years, the weather conditions may have a long-term effect on dragonfly populations.
Paul Wilkinson, ecologist for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Dragonflies, and their sister damselflies, flourish in clean water making them a fantastic indicator of the health of a canal or river.
“While this year’s floods and fast river flows have had an obvious impact on larger animals, such as birds and fish, we are also particularly concerned with the impact on invertebrates such as dragonflies, which form the foundation stones of a healthy water environment.
“Whilst fast flowing rivers may see a drop in the numbers of dragonflies emerging this spring, the Midlands’ slowing moving canal network could provide a welcome haven. By taking part in the Great Nature Watch, you can help us monitor numbers of dragonflies, damselflies, and in fact, all species living on the region’s canals and rivers over the coming years.”
Dragonflies are an ancient species, whose ancestors were around before the dinosaurs. While many of us recognise them as beautiful, iridescent, flying summer insects, they in fact spend the majority of their lives as underwater larva. They emerge ‘on the wing’ for a few brief months to mate and lay their eggs before dying.
The Great Nature Watch asks you to record your sightings of all wildlife you see on any canals, rivers, reservoirs or lakes. Records can be submitted by downloading the Trust’s free mobile app (search for Canal & River Trust) or online at canalrivertrust.org.uk/great-nature-watch. Anyone can take part, and record as many sightings as they like between now and September.
There’s plenty to explore on our rivers and canals, whether on the towpath, afloat or from a pub garden! To plan your next visit or get inspiration, visit canalrivertrust.org.uk