The return of the Whitefaces in the Netherlands

Leucorrhinia albifrons habitat and just emerged male

Two years ago, Leucorrhinia albifrons was considered extinct in the Netherlands, and the same was true for Leucorrhinia caudalis a little earlier. Both species are now back and we have a total of five species of Whitefaces in the Netherlands.

In 2009 a new species came to the Netherlands: Leucorrhinia caudalis. The species was found in the Netherlands until 1970, but then disappeared. Ten years ago, however, the species was seen in the Wieden-Weerribben National Park.

Many dragonfly lovers were surprised in 2016 because Leucorrhinia caudalis appeared in all sorts of new places, also in urban areas. The species were seen in 2019 across the country, partly at the same locations as in 2018.The arrival of the Leucorrhinia albifrons in 2018 was special. In the Kuinderbos (Flevoland), all five leucorrhinia species were found at one location, a unique situation!

Leucorrhinia albifrons had not long disappeared from the Netherlands, only since 2013. The species has always been very rare. From 2005, there was one small population in Friesland, but it died out eight years later, making it the last population in the Netherlands. However, the species reappeared in 2016, such as in Overijssel, Gelderland, Noord-Holland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg. These vagrants probably came along with the eastern wind from Eastern Europe.

Leucorrhinia albifrons is a species of moderately nutrient-poor fens in a wooded area. They like clear water and there must be a wide zone of plants on the water for the development of the larvae. In 2019, reproduction was established at Staatsbosbeheer in the province of Overijssel. This is a spectacular development that we will follow closely in the coming years, because as far as we know this is the only place in the Netherlands where the species now occurs. Whether the species will be able to maintain itself will we see in the coming years?

Text & Photo’s: RenĂ© Manger