NOT far from where I live in Clackmannanshire, lies a wonderful little boggy pool fringed by a diversity of marginal bog plants and a flourishing population of frogs.

But on a warm and sunny summer’s day, especially when the wind has fallen still, the real stars are the dazzling blue and red damselflies that skim the edges on weak and fluttering wings.

These damselflies bring real colour to this little pond but their beauty is only fleeting for they will soon be dead, on the wing for only a matter of weeks in the last stage of a much longer underwater

life cycle.

Once mated the female damselfly lays her eggs in the water or on water vegetation, which hatch into six-legged carnivorous larvae that lurk on the bed of a pond or loch.

They are voracious hunters seeking out a wide range of invertebrates and other prey such as tadpoles and small fish.

Then, after a year or two, from its larval skin emerges a dazzling adult winged insect. The contrast in lifestyle and difference in appearance between the larval and winged stage could hardly be greater.

Damselflies are similar in appearance to dragonflies, but damselflies are smaller and thinner and have a weaker flight, and generally hold their wings together when resting.

Scotland is home to about 23 breeding species of dragonfly and damselfly.

The dragonflies most likely to be encountered are the four-spotted chaser, golden-ringed dragonfly and the common darter.

For damselflies, the most frequent species are the large red and the common blue damselflies.

The fortunes of Scotland’s damselflies and dragonflies depend upon the availability of suitable habitat and this is where conservation efforts should be directed.

These insects generally prefer still and running shallow freshwater areas, as well as open woodland, and the conservation of such areas not only benefits damsel and dragonflies but also a whole host of other fauna and flora.