It's been a few years now since I decided to start an exuviae collection of the dragonflies and damselflies that I encounter. At first, I didn't really know that much about them but with the help of the 'Field Guide to the Larvae and Exuviae of British Dragonflies' by Steve Cham which is a must for anyone interested in this side of Odonata, and many hours out in the field identifying the different species exuviae, I like to feel that I am now at the stage whereby I can identify the majority of exuviae I find. There are; however, a number of tricky damselflies which are quite problematic to identify but hopefully with practise and experience, I will slowly gain a better knowledge in this area. Most of the exuviae have been found by myself with recent additions last year being Brilliant and Downy Emerald, Southern Migrant Hawker, Brown Hawker and Ruddy Darter. I am also hopeful this year that I can somehow locally add Black tailed Skimmer, Red eyed and Small red eyed Damselfly exuviae to the collection if I spend enough time at the correct time of year looking in likely areas. I have also over the past couple of years been sent in the post Red veined Darter, Scarce Emerald Damselfly and Common Clubtail by fellow enthusiast Jon Mee and despite the distance in the post, the exuviae have always been received in excellent condition. I have spent many hours at home studying and photographing the exuviae which can be seen by clicking on the 'My Website' tab at the top of the page and I hope that they will come in useful to others when identifying any unknown exuviae they find. I always find it very rewarding when searching through the reeds and vegetation for exuviae and then you find one. I like to remember the story that has unfolded there as the nymph has crawled up the stem or reed and over time, sometimes hours, has transformed from a water dweller to a master of the skies. The golden reward that has been left behind to otherwise blow away in the wind. They are packed full of detail with each species having their own distinguishable features which can be learnt through time and practise. The main reason other than collecting them obviously confirming that breeding has taken place. With the season only a few weeks away now, I can't wait to get back out there with the camera to study and photograph the dragonflies and damselflies... but my eyes will also be on the ever lookout for any exuviae in excellent condition to add to the growing collection.
The Exuviae Collection... So Far