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'Extinct' dragonfly alive and well in Skåne

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Photo: Linda Strand/TT
11:10 CEST+02:00
A six-year inventory of dragonflies in southern Sweden revealed that several species thought to be extinct are still flying high.

The project has documented dragonflies in Skåne and Östergötland for the past six years, with a core group of four people and various volunteers assisting.

Several species previously on Sweden's endangered list were revealed to be thriving, including the pygmy damselfly, known in Swedish as the dvärgflickslända.

The dragonfly is threatened throughout the world, but seemed to disappear from Sweden entirely in 2005. In 2010 it was concluded there were still a few left, and the dragonfly was reclassified as endangered. 

"It's very exciting," project leader Linda Strand told The Local on Friday. "It was classified as extinct. The pygmy damselfly is also Europe's smallest dragonfly."

The Scarce Chaser dragonfly (spetsfläckade trollsländan) was listed as vulnerable in Sweden in 2005, and had not been seen in Skåne for 70 years. But the brightly coloured flies were relatively frequent catches in the inventory, revealing that they also are doing quite well. 

Between 300 and 400 people, from children to pensioners, have volunteered with the project. And Strand mentioned that it's no easy task.

"It's not really like catching a phlegmatic butterfly," she said. "They fly very fast. So there's a little action involved."

During the inventory 64 species of dragonfly were documented, including several which are new to Sweden. 

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Strand hopes the project will increase knowledge and awareness of Sweden's dragonflies, and help document changes in the fauna over time.

"Hopefully someone in the future can do a follow-up, maybe in 20 or 30 years and determine if the dragonflies are still doing well," Strand told The Local. "And if they're not then it should be fairly easy to determine why, since we've mapped everything.

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