Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa

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Length

35-39mm; Wingspan: Male 42mm; Female 45mm; Hindwing 19-22mm

Male

Emerald Damselfly - Lestes sponsa
Metallic green in colour. This species has a slow maturation period of two to four weeks, over this period a blue pruinescence appears on the thorax between wings and segments 1,2, 9 and 10. Eyes blue. Confusion species is Scarce Emerald Damselfly which is extinct in Yorkshire. Both sexes rest with wings half open.

Female

Emerald Damselfly - Lestes sponsa
Metallic green, with pale beige sides to the thorax. Distinctly thicker abdomen than male.

Gallery

Emerald Damselfly Gallery

Behaviour

Weak flyer usually remaining close to emergent vegetation, rarely going far over water. Copulation usually takes place close to breeding site and last from 30 minutes to over an hour. Females usually arrive to oviposit in tandem with the male. Oviposits in to stems of emergent grasses, rushes, sedges and horsetails, usually above surface, but can submerge, including the male. Fairly sedentary and can be absent from seemingly good sites.

Habitat

Still or slow moving water such as ponds, bogs, ditches, canals and lake edges with dense emergent vegetation. Tolerates brackish and acidic water. Sensitive to excessive clearance of emergent vegetation.

Flight Period

Nationally: Late May to early October.
Yorkshire: Late May, though more usually mid June to late September. Most abundant during late July.

emedam

Status

Found at many sites through VC61-64. Scarce or under recorded in VC65.

Locations

emerald-damselfly-lestes-sponsa

Small Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma viridulum

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Length

29mm; Wingspan: Male 38mm; Female 38mm; Hindwing 16-20mm

Male

Small Red-eyed Damselfly - Erythromma viridulum

Similar to Red-eyed Damselfly though distinctly smaller, more likely to be overlooked as Blue-tailed Damselfly. Lacks spots behind the eyes which are reddish-brown. Pale brown pterostigma. Black top to thorax with thin, broken antehumeral stripes. Thorax side is blue with a ‘Spur’ often ending in a spot. Underside of legs are pale. Abdomen dark on top except for S1, S9- S10 and sides of S2-S3 and S8 which are blue. S10 has a black mark, rather like an X, on the top. Wing tips just reach past the join of segment 6 and 7, Red-eyed Damselflies reach into segment 8. Often holds it’s abdomen slightly upcurved, Red-eyed Damselflies hold their abdomen level.

Female

Small Red-eyed Damselfly - Erythromma viridulum

Lack spots behind the eyes. Pale brown pterostigma. Black top to thorax with complete antehumeral stripes. Thorax side is blue-green. Abdomen is predominantly black with a wedge of colour on S10.

Gallery

Small Red-eyed Damselfly Gallery

Behaviour

Mating occurs on floating plants or emergent vegetation, often well away from the margins, making them easily overlooked. Less partial to floating flat leaves than Red-eyed Damselfly. Whilst perched on vegetation the males often hold their abdomen slightly upcurved.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes and ditches clogged with floating mats of vegetation, particularly hornworts and water-milfoils.

Flight Period

National: Mid June to late September though mainly July to August. Later than Red-eyed Damselfly.
Yorkshire: Currently only recorded during August.

Locations

small-red-eyed-damselfly-erythromma-viridulum

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans

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Length

29-34mm; Wingspan: 35-40mm; Hindwing 14-21mm

Male

Dark bronze-black metallic with blue segment 8. Blue or green sides to the thorax and antehumeral stripes. Blue eye spots. Pterostigma is distinctive being bi-coloured black and white. Tips of the lower appendages diverge.

Male Blue-tailed Damselfly at Pocklington Canal on 22/06/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Female

Occur in several colour forms dependent on age. Segment 8, though not always blue, is usually clearly different from the other sections. Start as either rufescens with a reddish-pink thorax and blue segment 8 or violacea with a violet thorax and antehumeral stripes, black humeral stripes and blue segment 8. After around eight days they mature and change colour, rufescens become greenish-brown of the form rufescens-obsoleta. The form violacea mature into two separate from. The first is infuscans which is a pale green colour, and retaining the black humeral stripes. The second is an andromorph form which adopts the same colours as a male.

Female Blue-tailed Damselfly at Pocklington Canal on 22/06/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Gallery

Blue-tailed Damselfly Gallery

Behavior

Usually stays low down in marginal vegetation, or sheltered well vegetated areas when away from water. Can remain in copulation for up to six hours, making this the most commonly found species in tandem. Female oviposits alone into aquatic vegetation of debris. Less dependent on warm sunny weather, can still be quite active in windy and cool overcast conditions.

Habitat

Has a wide habitat preference making it the most widespread species in the county, though not necessarily abundant. Present at still, slow moving and even brackish waters. Can even tolerate pollution to a small degree. An early coloniser of new ponds.

Flight Period

National: May to mid-September.
Yorkshire: May to mid-September.

bludam

Status

Common and widespread throughout the area, though scarcer in the uplands.

Locations

blue-tailed-damselfly-ischnura-elegans

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella

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Length

33mm, Wings 36-44mm

Males

Bright blue body with black markings; thorax black top with 2 thin antehumeral stripes; abdomen black U-shaped mark segment 2, segment 8 blue and 9 marked black; eyes bright spots not joined by a bar.

Male Azure Damselfly at Broomfleet Washlands on 22/06/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Females

2 colour forms:-
1) Body green with black markings on upper surface; segment 2 with black thistle shape.
2) Blue form has “mercury” shape on segment 2; rest of black upper markings are more extensive; narrow pale antehumeral stripes.

Note: The shape of the pronotum is the only conclusive way to seperate this species from Variable Damselfly. Personal observations have highlighted that female Azure Damselflies lack the bar between the eye spots, compared to Variable Damselfly.

Female Azure Damselfly at Tophill Low on 15/05/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

02052011-azudam-female-broomfleet-barrywarrington

 

Comments

Initially this species is more abundant than the similar Common Blue Damselfly with which it can be easily confused. It is easy to make the mistake of identifying early blue damselflies as being Azure, then assuming on later visits that this is still the case. However after four of five weeks, Azure can suddenly become harder to find as Common Blue Damselfly become more abundant.

Gallery

Azure Damselfly Gallery

Habitat

Widely distributed, prefers small sheltered sites, particularly garden ponds, ditches and canals with plenty of emergent vegetation.

Behavior

Copulation 30 minutes; egg laying in tandem into surface or submerged vegetation.

Flight Period

Mid-May to late August over southern half of Great Britain.

azudam

Status

Common

Locations

azure-damselfly-coenagrion-puella

Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum

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Length

32mm, Wings 36-42mm

Male

Bright blue body with black markings on upper surface of abdomen, segment 2 has lollipop mark; segment 8 and 9 all blue; broad antehumeral stripes on black thorax; eye spot linked by bar.

Male Common Blue Damselfly at Broomfleet Washlands on 23/05/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Female

3 colour forms:-
1) abdomen with black markings.
2) Green with black markings.
3) Brown with black markings. All have characteristic medial spine under segment 8, presumably puncturing plant material before inserting an egg.

17062010-comblu-female-reiverhertford-paulashton

 

Gallery

Common Blue Damselfly Gallery

Habitat

Canals, gravel pits, lakes, ponds and slow moving rivers.

Behavior

Pairs lay eggs into stems of vegetation, female often immersing, when male will detach from her. Male will pull her out if she has difficulty. Larvae 2 years. Adults feed around grasses catching small insects.

Flight Period

Mid-May to late September.

Status

Occurs on a wide range of varying water-bodies. Can be more conspicuous than the similar Azure Damselfly. Blue damselflies ranging far over open water are usually this species. Generally the most abundant blue damselfly at sites, where the Azure can be absent.

Locations

common-blue-damselfly-enallagma-cyathigerum

Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta

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Length

63mm, Wings 87mm

Males

Thorax brown with broad thoracic stripes, with short indistinct antehumeral stripes; abdomen brown, yellow triangle mark on segment 2, separate pairs of blue spots along rest of abdomen; legs brown; eyes bluish; wings have brown costa.

Migrant Hawker at Spurn on 25/08/2009. - © Michael Flowers.

 

Females

Thorax antehumeral stripes very restricted, often missing; abdomen brown with small yellow-brown spots; long anal appendages. Brown costa, leading edge to the wing.

Female Migrant Hawker at North Cave Wetlands on 01/09/2009. - © Paul Ashton.

 

Gallery

Migrant Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Canals, ditches, gravel pits, lakes, ponds rivers and streams.

Behavior

Males patrol just above water level. Copulation takes up to 2 hours in taller vegetation. Females lay eggs alone into floating plants. Larvae 1-2 years.

Flight Period

Late July – October. Found in Southern and Central England; gradually spreading through Yorkshire.

Locations

migrant-hawker-aeshna-mixta

Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea

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Length

70mm, Wings 98mm.

Males

Thorax – green and brown with broad green antehumeral stripes; abdomen – yellow triangle segment 2, green spots segments 3-8; undivided blue spots segments 9-10; wings brownish tinge; legs brown-black.

22082007-souhaw-male-northcliffe-paulashton

 

Females

Thorax – green and brown with broad green antehumeral stripes; abdomen brown with green spots, undivided green spots on segments 9-10.

2003-souhaw-female-paulashton

 

Gallery

Southern Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Canals, ditches and ponds at lower levels.

Behavior

Males prefer to avoid competition with other males. Copulation takes up to 2 hours. Females lay eggs unaccompanied. Larvae 2 years.

Flight Period

Mid-July to end of September. Found throughout England and Wales, gradually spreading northwards.

Locations

southern-hawker-aeshna-cyanea

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis

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Length

73mm, Wings 102mm.

Males

Thorax brown; abdomen brown with bright blue spots at sides; wings characteristically honey brown colour; legs pale brown.

01072011-brohaw-male-weltonwaters-barrywarrington

 

Females

As males except blue spots on abdomen replaced with yellow markings.

02072011-brohaw-tophilllow-paulashton

 

Gallery

Brown Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Canals, ditches, lakes , ponds and slow rivers.

Behavior

Hunt late in day often catching prey by street light (photo of wings which were found on street pavement). Males patrol at head height. Females lay eggs alone into water plants or damp wood. Breeds in a variety of standing or slow moving water sites. Can be encountered several miles away from water feeding along woodland edges or rides.

Flight Period

The national flight period is from mid-June to early October. The East Riding flight period is detailed in the chart below and is based on current records.

Locations

brown-hawker-aeshna-grandis

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator

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Length

78mm Wings, 106mm.

Males

Thorax bright green; abdomen blue with black central line; legs black; eyes green; wings clear with yellow costa.

Male Emperor Dragonfly at Farnham Lakes on 11/07/2009. - © Stuart Roebuck.

 

Females

Generally greenish with thicker black central abdominal line.

02072011-empdra-tophilllow-paulashton

 

Gallery

Emperor Dragonfly Gallery

Habitat

Canals, gravel pits, lakes and ponds.

Behavior

Males have strong flight, flying low over territorial waters. Females lay eggs alone into floating vegetation.

Flight Period

Late May to mid-August. In Great Britain found in most of England and Wales, south of Lancashire/ Humber. Gradually spreading through the East Riding.

Locations

emperor-dragonfly-anax-imperator

Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum

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Length

50mm, Wings 78mm

Males

Black-tailed Skimmer - Orthetrum cancellatum
Thorax black, no antehumeral stripes; Abdomen top is blue with yellow spots towards sides, black tip; legs black.

Females

Black-tailed Skimmer - Orthetrum cancellatum
All yellow with 2 black bands on upper surface abdomen.

Gallery

Black-tailed Skimmer Gallery

Habitat

Prefers lakes, ponds, gravel workings, slow rivers or marshes, with exposed mud, stones or bare patches where the male can perch.

Behavior

Brief mating, female lays eggs unattended. Larvae 2-3 years.

Status

VC61 – A recent colonist to the area. Can be seen well at North Cave Wetlands were conditions are currently ideal for this species, however it may become less favorable as the site matures. Appears to be probably breeding at Tophill Low as numbers have increased over the last few years, though it is difficult to locate. Recorded with some regularity at Spurn with first records in 2004 from Welton Waters and Paull Holme Strays.

Flight Period

Nationally the flight period is from mid-May to late August.

Locations

black-tailed-skimmer-orthetrum-cancellatum

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum

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Length

37mm, Wings 57mm.

Males

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum
Thorax brown with yellow patches on sides; abdomen orange/red with black central line last 2 segments ; legs black/yellow; eyes brownish; black line on top of the frons only.

 

Females

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum
Thorax pale brown with yellow side panels; abdomen yellow with black central line segments 9-10 and along sides. Old females tend to take on male colours.

 

Gallery

Common Darter Gallery

Habitat

Any water.

Behavior

Find many males together over water. Eggs laid in tandem, eggs flipped into water. Larvae 1 year.

Flight Period

Mid-June to October. Found throughout England and Wales except very high ground.

Locations

common-darter-sympetrum-striolatum

Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum

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Length

34mm, Wings 55mm.

Males

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Thorax brown with 2 thin black lines on sides; abdomen narrow waist, rich red colour; face red; legs all black; line over frons spreads down the sides.

 

Females

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Yellowish throughout with black markings on sides of thorax and abdomen; legs all black.

 

Gallery

Ruddy Darter Gallery

Habitat

Canals, ditches, lakes, gravel pits and ponds.

Behavior

Males defend territory. Capture females to mate in taller vegetation. Egg laying in tandem, flicking eggs into water. Larvae 1 year.

Flight Period

Late-June to October. In Great Britain found in southern and central England, including the East Riding, and spreading northwards.

Locations

ruddy-darter-sympetrum-sanguineum

Black Darter Sympetrum danae

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Length

32mm, Wings 47mm

Males

Black Darter - Sympetrum danae
Narrow waist on black abdomen with golden spots segment 1 and 2, 8 and 9; thorax 2 yellow bars on side, 1 of black panels has 3 yellow spots; legs black.

 

Females

Black Darter - Sympetrum danae
Yellow with black triangle top of thorax; legs black.

 

Gallery

Black Darter Gallery

Habitat

Prefers shallow acidic pools or bogs, with abundant emergent vegetation on Lowland Heaths or Moorland Bogs.

Status

VC61 – In the East Riding, breeding populations are confined to Skipwith Common, where it is the most abundant species, and a small colony at Allerthorpe Common. Adults are wanderers and can turn up many miles away from known sites, however it is also an immigrant, which could account for the coastal records.

Flight Period

The national flight period is mid-July to mid-September.

Locations

black-darter-sympetrum-danae