The Naturalist on Chios, Greece.

Mike Taylor , Liverpool Museum.


Dragonflies, ( Order Odonata ), are amongst the oldest known insects with fossils of their very large ancestors, up to 700mm in span, being found in Carboniferous deposits hundreds of millions of years old.

The present day naturalist on Chios will have the opportunity to observe many species in good numbers and at close quarters, if they visit their breeding grounds at the right time.

The invertebrate biodiversity study has identified 20 species as occurring on Chios, however it is anticipated that further survey work ought to prove the existence of perhaps up to 30 more species, depending upon migration conditions.

Dragonflies need water in which their larval stages develop, several species can tolerate water of varying quality and mineral content. However most species have preferences for particular kinds of water and habitats.

In lowland areas of Chios, pools of fresh water formed by springs or the collection of seasonal rains can be very attractive to a number of dragonfly species, particularly if they retain some water all year round and if they contain marginal vegetation. Two good examples of man-made sites are the pools in the abandoned brickworks at Keramia, Thimiana and the agricultural reservoir at Armolia. The Thimiana site is of very great biodiversity value as it also has many other aquatic insects belonging to other orders, e.g. The Diving Beetle, Cybister tripunctatus africanus ( Coleoptera, Dytiscidae ). In early June large numbers of Hawker, Skimmer and Darter Dragonflies emerge at night, their Nymphs climb out of the water and cling onto the stems of the marginal vegetation, they then emerge, expanding their wings and body parts and leave their Nymph skins as ' exuviae', ghostly looking delicate translucent shells. It is possible to identify the species concerned by examining these exuviae. In favoured places hundreds of exuviae can be counted on the stems of marginal vegetation, this year I found several clusters of up to six all on top of each other at the Keramia pool. Species found here include, Vagrant Emperor, Hemianax ephippiger ; Emperor, Anax imperator ; Lesser Emperor, Anax parthenope ; Black-tailed Skimmer, Orthetrum cancellatum ; Scarlet Darter, Crocothemis erythraea ; Red-veined Darter, Sympetrum fonscolombii ; and Yellow-winged Darter, Sympetrum flaveolum.

The mountain streams and spring fed watercourses are breeding grounds for a number of species dependant upon clean well oxygenated water. The relatively low density of prey for the developing predatory larvae can result in extended timespans for the larval stages. This can extend to numbers of years in some species. The best places for observing these dragonflies include the rivers flowing down from Pelinaeon such as the river just to the north of Fyta, Kampia Gorge and Nagos. Species found here include Greek Golden-ringed, Cordulegaster insignis; Green-eyed Hook-tailed, Onychogomphus forcipatus ; Caliaeschna microstigma ; Beautiful Demoiselle , Calopteryx virgo ; Southern Skimmer, Orthetrum brunneum ; and Orthetrum anceps.

One special breeding habitat, brackish water, is necessary for some species including the Dark Emerald Damselfly, Lestes macrostigma currently known from just one site Chios where it breeds inthe pool at the back of the beac at Kato Fana.

There are a number of generally distributed species on Chios which can be found almost anywhere including Migrant Hawker, Aeschna mixta ; Broad-bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa ; Southern Emerald Damselfly, Lestes barbarus ; White-legged Damselfly, Platycnemis pennipes and Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura elegans. 





© M.J.Taylor 2003. - email: mike.taylor(at) 

Home - Map of Chios - Introduction - Birds on Chios - Wildflowers on Chios - Insects on Chios - Butterflies and Moths - Bees, Wasps and Ants - Flies - Snakeflies, Antlions and Lacewings - Dragonflies - Beetles - Grasshoppers and Crickets - Scorpions and Spiders on Chios - Mammals on Chios - Frogs and Toads on Chios - Lizards and Snakes on Chios - Armadillos, Terrapins and Tortoises on Chios - Marine Fish on Chios - Photographs - Acknowledgements