Dragonflies / Libellen

In an effort to familiarize myself with more Swiss fauna, I took an introductory dragonfly course through BirdLife Zürich. The course ran through the main part of the 2016 dragonfly season, from May through September. It was fun to visit new areas and learn new species, especially such spectacular ones as dragonflies. At the same time, I learned about different (dragonfly) habitat types and their respective dragonfly indicator species.

I was struggling to sort the species out in my head according to the many common names, so I compiled a list of all the dragonflies in Switzerland, with their scientific name, common English and German names (French names coming soon!), and conservation status in Switzerland (BAFU 2002) and globally (IUCN). You can download this list in Excel format.

Screenshot 2016-06-27 14.11.59

Preview of Swiss damselfly and dragonfly list with taxonomy, common German and English names, and conservation status in Switzerland and globally.

By the end of the season (into November!), I saw 37 species found in Switzerland, 15 damselfly and 22 dragonfly species (plus a few subspecies). Some of the more interesting behaviors I observed were related to mating behaviors and egg laying. Males sometimes stay attached to the female as she lays her eggs, sometimes he leaves her alone, and other times he hovers near her and fights off would-be competitors. For their part, the females may lay eggs (oviposit) during flight, dive completely underwater to lay eggs in aquatic vegetation, or they may even make little holes in willow trees to lay eggs inside the bark (which you can see as little bumps in the bark if you look carefully). While most adults die off after breeding and a few others migrate south to warmer climes, there is one species that overwinters as an adult by using antifreeze-like chemicals in its body to survive deep freezes!

A selection of my best photos per species is posted below. Click on a photo to see a larger version and full caption. These photos were taken with a compact camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS25).