Page last updated at 23:16 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 00:16 UK

Park to survey dragonfly numbers

White faced darter
White faced darters are among the park's residents

Old curling ponds, lochs and bogs are to be surveyed to help gauge the numbers and varieties of dragonfly and damselfly in a national park.

Cairngorms National Park is believed to provide habitat for 13 types of the large insects.

A pictorial guide to the creatures has been produced to aid volunteers in identifying them.

The effort is part of a five-year project to update the National Dragonfly Atlas.

The park authority said a number of its species were rare.

It said the northern damselfly and white faced darter were classified as endangered by conservationists, while the azure hawker was classified as threatened.

Cairngorms biodiversity officer Stephen Corcoran hoped the leaflet would encourage more people to look for the insects.

Damselfly are in the sub order Zygoptera (yoke wing) and dragonfly the sub order Anisoptera (unequal wing)
Old names for the insects include adder bolt, snake doctor and devil's darning needle
In folklore, the devil's darning needle would sew a person's eyelids shut if they feel asleep beside a stream
Source:British Dragonfly Society

He added: "The status of dragonflies across the park is unknown, and it is not clear what impact climate change may have on them.

"A new national atlas is urgently required to map any change and highlight potential threats.

"To succeed in this ambitious project good national coverage is needed, particularly in the Cairngorms, which is the stronghold for several rare species many of whom are under recorded."

The insects are associated with freshwater for breeding.

Adult dragonflies are on the wing from May until October but the best time to see them is usually June and July on warm, sunny days with little wind.

Large numbers are known to be found around pools in Abernethy, Glenmore, Rothiemurchus, Glen Tanar Estate, Insh Marshes and Dinnet National Nature Reserve.

Dragonflies are harmless, but inquisitive, and feed on other flies and insects including midges.

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