THE wettest winter on record could have had a lasting impact on populations of dragonflies and damselflies in Lancashire, according to The Canal & River Trust.
The trust is asking people to help monitor the insects as part of its annual Great Nature Watch, which launches today.
Dragonflies are an ancient species, whose ancestors were around before the dinosaurs.
They spend the majority of their lives as underwater larva, and emerge ‘on the wing’ for a few brief months to mate and lay their eggs before dying.
Fluctuating river levels and fast currents are known to wash away dragonfly larva – known as nymphs.
As larva live underwater for up to three years, unprecedented floods may have a long-term effect on dragonfly populations.
Peter Birch, group environment manager for the Canal & River Trust said: “Dragonflies, and their sister damselflies, flourish in clean water which is rich in bankside vegetation, such as reeds.
“This makes them a fantastic indicator of the health of a canal or river.
“While this year’s floods have had an obvious impact on larger animals, birds and fish, we are also particularly concerned with the impact on invertabrates, which form the foundation stones of a healthy water environment.
“We would expect to see an increase in numbers of mosquitoes and midges which prefer stagnant and isolated water, but we may also see a drop in the numbers of dragonflies emerging this spring.
“By taking part in the Great Nature Watch, you can help us monitor numbers of dragonflies, damselflies, and in fact, all species living on Lancashire’s canals and rivers over the coming years.”
The Great Nature Watch asks people to record sightings of all wildlife on any of Lancashire’s canals, rivers, reservoirs or lakes.
Records can be submitted by downloading the Trust’s free mobile app (search for Canal & River Trust) or online at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/great-nature-watch.
Anyone can take part, and record as many sightings as they like between now and September.