June Wildlife Watch with Cornwall Wildlife Trust

June is a great month for wildlife spotting in Cornwall, read our blog and find out more about moon jellyfish, the ruddy darter dragonfly and the Southern marsh orchid.

Moon Jellyfish

The moon jellyfish, (Aurelia aurita) is one of the most common species of jellyfish found around Cornish shores, and you may well encounter some of this species in and around Cornish waters this month. Adults can be either pale blue or pink, but can most easily be recognized by their dish-shaped top, which features four violet moon shapes, giving them their common name. This species feeds on plankton and small fish, and although all jellyfish can swim slowly, they are largely at the mercy of the tides and currents.

At certain times large numbers are concentrated into bays, and may be stranded on beaches. However this species is virtually harmless to humans since their stings - like minute harpoons fired by springs - are not powerful enough to pierce human skin. If you see any stranded jellyfish washed up on Cornish beaches please let the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network know about it.

Safety: If you do touch the jellyfish wash your hands after doing so as a skin reaction may occur.

Ruddy Darter Dragonfly

The ruddy darter dragonfly, (Sympetrum sanguineum) is on the wing in Cornwall between June and September. This dragonfly species is smaller than the common darter and lives in the margins of weedy ponds and ditches, most frequently in woodland. As their name suggests, the males of this species become blood-red with maturity. Females, however, have an ochre yellow body.

Passing females are chased by males and if caught the pair fly off into surrounding vegetation to mate. They then return to the pond to lay their eggs in tandem, with the female dipping into the water to wash off the eggs. Their weed-dwelling larva then takes around one year to develop into adults. Cornwall’s once extensive mining industry has created some prime dragonfly habitat through the pools that have formed in old quarry sites. You might see this and many other species at Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Chyverton Nature Reserve near Marazanvose, Truro or Bissoe Valley Nature Reserve, near Bissoe.

Southern Marsh Orchid

The Southern marsh orchid, (Dactylorhiza praetermissa), is the most successful and common orchid in Cornwall. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats from marshes, fields and wet heaths to road verges, old walls and even through holes in tarmac. The plant flowers between June and August. It has long flat glossy green leaves and tall conical pink/purple flower heads which can have between 50 to 100 individual flowers. It is best identified by the rounded 'lips' on each flower which separates it from other similar species.

Unfortunately, due to illegal collection and picking, the exact locations of all orchid species are kept confidential where possible to reduce the risks of removal of colonies. However, the Trust’s Sylvia’s Meadow Nature Reserve near Saltash is well known as the most rich orchid site in Cornwall with almost all of the species native to Cornwall being found here.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust is the leading local charity working to protect Cornwall’s wildlife and wild places, on land and at sea. If you love Cornwall’s wildlife you can help them protect it by joining as a member, visit.

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