Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust

This year is the 30th anniversary of Freshwater Habitats Trust and we are honoured to have been asked to produce a range of products to celebrate it. We’ve borrowed the ‘30’ from 30th and are giving 30% of profits from sales of our dragonfly range to Freshwater Habitats Trust.

We chose a dragonfly for all the reasons below and because it’s Freshwater Habitats Trust’s logo. Having worked with Freshwater Habitats Trust for over 20 years on various projects, we’re always  impressed with their work and their objectives. While it is on your mind, if you haven’t done it before, check out the website and look at the Million Ponds Project and pond net.

It’s become clear (if you’ll excuse the pun) that garden ponds are incredibly important for all sorts of wildlife over wide areas. New ponds (free of disease, pollutants and established predators) are among the most important water bodies there are. Freshwater Habitats Trust offer all sorts of guidance in creating new ponds, managing freshwater and involving others. As a life-long pond dipper and water-gazer, I think that pond creation and the protecting and study of freshwater life is one of the most rewarding ways to make a real difference.

dragonfly T-shirt

The dragonfly

Our image is based on the emperor dragonfly. Dragonflies and damselflies depend on ponds where their spectacular underwater larvae live and grow. They then emerge and reach-out into the world beyond them, much like ponds do as a habitat.

I like, no adore, dragonflies for a variety of reasons. Most people probably like them because of their colours and the beautiful shimmering wings and spectacular flying ability. I like that too, but probably really most enjoy the close up view. Insects often get described as alien but that suggests they are not part of our world or us part of theirs.  I prefer to think of them as deliciously different to us, part of the spice of life. You’ll find beautiful descriptions of dragonflies wherever you look them up, but what I like is their stripped down built for the job appearance. Like colourful sky sharks, they are made for spotting prey far away and being on top of it in seconds.

They spend a year or so walking on the bottom of a pond as a larvae, grabbing prey too big for most predators their size. They do this using amazing projectile mouth parts. Then they put that secure underwater world behind them and become lords of the air. Lords of the air as long as they can dodge predatory birds!

About 10 years ago we were having a picnic and a golden ring dragonfly landed beside us. It appeared seemingly unconcerned but, it was in fact, pre-occupied with its own meal. On closer inspection we saw it was eating a queen wasp, still alive; an animal we sometimes see grown men run away from.

Dragonfly flight

Living Fossils

So dragonflies have an amazing life cycle, they fly they swim they walk. They are efficient predators and probably the fastest flying insects with the best eyesight. But there’s more and it’s a good reason to put them on a T-shirt or on your wall. The entire group are living fossils if you like the term.

The dragonfly Meganeura known from a fossil from Bolsover in Derbyshire was the largest flying insect that has ever lived. The Bolsover dragonfly must have emerged from an equally impressive larva (or nymph) and spread its 75cm wingspan (broader than a magpie) with a rattle and a buzz ,like a motorbike as it lifted off on 4 iridescent wings. It would knock you off your bike if it hit you. Our T-shirt dragonfly is about half the size of Meganeura who lived in the carboniferous period around 300 million years ago before birds or pterodactyls and were the unrivalled lords of the air at that time.

If you, like me, are beguiled by the timelessness and beauty of the dragonfly then I suggest you borrow its spirit, emerge from your past life and dig a new pond or otherwise help empower the natural world and especially threatened species to fight back against pollution and habitat destruction in all its forms. Freshwater Habitats Trust are there to help.

You can find the Dragonfly T-shirt here and there are more products to follow soon.

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