Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo

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Length

45-49mm; Wingspan: Male 58mm; Female 63mm; Hindwing 24-36mm; Larva: 30-35mm

Male

Dark brown-black wings, with iridescent blue veins making the wings appear metallic cobalt blue. Extreme tips and bases may be paler, there is no pterostigma. Wings are broader than the similar Banded Demoiselle. Body is metallic blue-green. Immatures wings are browner.

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Female

Dark brown iridescent wings with a white ‘false pterostigma’, larger on forewing than hindwing. Wings are browner than the similar Banded Demoiselle. Body is metallic green with a bronze tip to abdomen. Homeochrome, (male coloured females) are sometimes recorded.

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Gallery

Beautiful Demoiselle Gallery

Behavior

Territorial males perch on bankside vegetation. They will flick their wings open and shut, occasionally chasing off passing insects, often returning to same perch. Females only visit water for egg-laying or seeking a mate, both sexes frequently stray well away from water. Flies slowly with a butterfly like flight and frequently settles on bankside vegetation or trees.

Habitat

Restricted to faster running clear water, found only along streams and rivers, often acidic, with sand or gravel bottom. Mostly found along heathland or moorland streams, though can also occur in farmland and woodland, including well shaded streams. Prefers cooler water than Banded Demoiselle. As streams broaden this species gives way to Banded Demoiselle, where there may be a broad overlap. Occasional hybridisation may take place. Sensitive to waterway management (clearance of vegetation) and pollution.

Flight Period

National: Late April to early October, though generally May to late September, being most abundant during June and July.
Yorkshire: Mid June to early August.


Status

VC61 – Only finds its way into the Vice-county due to the new course of the River Hertford being cut south of the old North and East Riding County Boundary. In many places this is within metres of the boundary.
VC62 – Extremely localised to the south-eastern area of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Locations

beautiful-demoiselle-calopteryx-virgo

Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens

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Length

45-48mm; Wingspan: Male 61mm; Female 65mm; Hindwing 27-36mm; Larva: 30-40mm

Males

Translucent wings with a broad, dark iridescent blue-black band on outer part of both wings, there is no pterostigma. Body is metallic blue-green. Immatures wing band is dark brown.

Male Banded Demoiselle on the River Derwent at Ganton on 17/06/2010. - © Paul Ashton.

Females

Translucent pale green wings, white ‘false pterostigma’, larger on forewing than hindwing, metallic green body. Sometimes androchrome females are observed (male coloured females), these can be identified by the ‘false pterostigma’ which males lack.

Female Banded Demoiselle on the River Nidd, Killinghall on 01/07/2009. - © Stuart Roebuck.

Gallery

Banded Demoiselle Gallery

Behavior

Males are territorial, though large numbers can be found together. They attract females by flicking their wings open whilst performing an aerial dance in front of them, flopping down on to the egg-laying site. Females stay away from water unless looking for a mate or egg-laying. Adults will make use of nettle beds and tall grasses to rest.

Habitat

Mature, slow-flowing streams, rivers and canals, with muddy sediment. Can overlap with Beautiful Demoiselle where habitat contains patches of sand and gravel. Prefers open banksides, where as Beautiful Demoiselle will happily use shady areas. Adults of both sexes can be found well away from water and ponds where breeding is unlikely, thought they will breed in lakes adjacent to rivers. Sensitive to waterway management (clearance of vegetation) and pollution.

Flight Period

National: Mid-April to late September, though generally mid-May to early September, being most abundant during June and July.

Yorkshire: Mid-May to late August.


Status

Abundant along occupied rivers and streams. East of the Yorkshire Wolds it is a scarce visitor with single individuals irregularly recorded at well watched sites. There are small signs that it may be about to start to colonise the Hull Valley.

Locations

banded-demoiselle-calopteryx-splendens

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

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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.

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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

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.

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Females

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

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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

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