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 types 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 2018 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 2018, 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

Larval skins of Vagrant emperor (Anax epipphiger)

A lot has been published in recent weeks about the Vagrant emperor (Anax epipphiger). Reproduction of the species is new to the Netherlands. Today I photographed the Anax larval skins, which I collected in the Millingerwaard on 27-8. All this together with the Blue emperor (Anax imperator) shows the difference in the prementum.

A lot of fresh Vagrant emperor (Anax ephippiger)

Emerging Vagrant emperor (Anax ephippiger) in the NL

The Vagrant emperor (Anax ephippiger) is a relative newcomer and was first seen in the Netherlands in 1995. In recent years they reproduce more often in southern Europe in summer and since then they have appeared in the Netherlands. Anax ephippiger were seen in almost all of the Netherlands in June 2019. This year is special because there are a lot of them, but also because they arrived early in the summer. The dragonflies are probably from the surroundings of Egypt and it was the first generation from Southern Europe that we never actually see here. Ovipositing have been observed in many places in our country. Anax ephippiger develop very quickly. In their normal range, the dry parts of Africa and southwest Asia, they reproduce in temporary ponds.

From the beginning of August, larval skins and fresh images have been seen in the provinces of Noord-Brabant, Gelderland, Utrecht, Zuid-Holland and Limburg. Many dragonfly lovers have started looking for larval skins. It is striking that in the morning only fresh disabled images are found (mostly wings). It has been found that Anax ephippiger are already flying away in the evening. The “good” ones fly away early in the evening or at night. It is still a mystery to which all these images fly, also because they are not seen during the day.

Who knows what to expect next year?

Text and photo’s: RenĂ© Manger