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

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

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

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Length

33-36mm; Wingspan: Male 44mm; Female 48mm; Hindwing 19-24mm

Male

The only red damselfly in Yorkshire and unlikely to be mistaken for anything else. Red abdomen, with black bands on segments 7 to 9. Thorax is black on the top with a red stripe (yellow in immatures). Black areas have a bronze tint.

Male Large Red Damselfly at Broomfleet Ponds Complex on 31/05/2009. - © Paul Ashton.

Male

Female

Occurs in three colour forms. The commonest form is typica, with black bands on most segments of the abdomen. Fulvipes is less well marked than typica and closely resembles the male. Melanotum is a dark from being mainly black, however the antehumeral stripes remain yellow (only yellow when immature in other forms).

Female typica form Large Red Damselfly at Tophill Low on 23/05/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

Female – typica

Gallery

Large Red Damselfly Gallery

Behaviour

This is the first damselfly to emerge each year in Yorkshire. It has a synchronous emergence, all emerging within a three week period, it is therefore shortly after emergence that this species is most abundant. Males emerge slightly earlier than females and also mature more quickly. Copulation lasts for around 15-20 minutes. Eggs are laid in tandem, the female may submerge taking the male with her. The life cycle is two years, on initially occupying a new site there may therefore only be adults found every other year.

Habitat

Has a wide habitat tolerance, including brackish and slightly polluted water, though avoids fast flowing water. Higher abundance in well vegetated, standing water.

Flight Period

National: Mid April to early September.
Yorkshire: Mid April to late July.

larred

Status

Evenly distributed across VC61-64, scarce in VC65.

Locations

large-red-damselfly-pyrrhosoma-nymphula

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

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

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea

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Length

74mm, Wings 95mm.

Males

Thorax top is black , narrow yellow antehumeral stripes and sides are brown with 2 narrow yellow thoracic stripes; abdomen black with pairs of yellow and blue spots including segments 9 and 10; legs black; wings have brilliant yellow costa.

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Females

Thorax brown; abdomen brown with paired yellow spots, sometimes green, rarely blue. Leading edge of the wing yellow.

23072010-comhaw-female-skipwith-paulashton

 

Gallery

Common Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Acidic moorland and heath land pools, of which there is little in the East Riding.

Behavior

Males seize upon females, mate for up to 1 hour in nearby vegetation. Female oviposits alone. Larvae 2+ years.

Flight Period

Late June – October. Found in Scotland, Wales and Western half of England including parts of Lincolnshire and North Yorks Moors.

Locations

common-hawker-aeshna-juncea

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.

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Females

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

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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

Golden-ringed Dragonfly Cordulegaster boltonii

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Male

Length 74mm, wings 100mm.

Predominantley black species, with yellow thoracic stripes and antehumeral stripes on the thorax, with yellow rings around the abdomen, slightly swollen towards the tip. Green eyes. Female Southern Hawkers sometimes confused with this species.

Male Golden-ringed Dragonfly at Fen Bog on 04/07/2009. - © Maurice Gordon.

Female

Length 84mm, wings 100mm.

Predominantley black species, with yellow thoracic stripes and antehumeral stripes on the thorax, with yellow rings around the parallel sided abdomen, ovipositor extending beyond segment 10. Green eyes. Female Southern Hawkers sometimes confused with this species.

09072011-goldra-newtondale-grahamfeatherstone

Both

Black with yellow markings, as rings on abdomen; eyes greenish; legs black; female has sharp ovipositor; wings clear with leading edges (costa) yellow.

Gallery

Golden-ringed Dragonfly Gallery

Habitat

Streams and rivers with silt, gravel or stone base in upland areas or lowland heath.

Behavior

Eggs laid in bed of stream, etc. Larvae 2-5 years.

Flight Period

Early June to end August. Basically a moorland species hence found chiefly in western side of Great Britain. Colonies present in North Yorkshire Moors. Occasional specimens seen in East Yorkshire are presumably vagrants. Has been recorded at Tophill Low and Flamborough Head.

Locations

golden-ringed-dragonfly-cordulegaster-boltonii

Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata

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Length

43mm, Wings 76mm

Males

Four-spotted Chaser at Tophill Low - 02/07/2011
Thorax brown, no antehumeral stripes; abdomen brown, last 4 segments darker than the rest, yellow spots on sides; wings dark patches at nodes on leading edges and at bases of rear wings.

 

Females

Four-spotted Chaser - Libellula quadrimaculata
Similar to males, main difference is the shape of the anal appendages.

 

Gallery

Four-spotted Chaser Gallery

Habitat

All types of still water.

Behavior

Males often use 1 perch, fiercely territorial towards other dragonflies. Rapid mating in flight. Females drop eggs into water. Larvae 2 years.

Flight Period

Mid-May – mid-August.

Locations

four-spotted-chaser-libellula-quadrimaculata

Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens

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Length

36-46mm; Wingspan: Male 57-63mm; Hindwing 28-34mm; Larva: 17-23mm

Males

Keeled Skimmer at Tranmire Bog - 03/07/2011
Dark brown thorax with buff antehumeral stripes, which fade with age. When mature the abdomen is blue, except S1. Blue grey eyes. Wings have a yellow tint when immature which clear as they mature. Pale yellow costa and orange pterostigma. Blue grey eyes.

Females

Keeled Skimmer - Orthertrum coerulescens
Dark brown thorax with buff antehumeral stripes. The abdomen is a yellow/brown colour with a thin dark keel line down the centre. Pale yellow costa and orange pterostigma.

Gallery

Keeled Skimmer Gallery

Behavior

Males have small territories observing them from the ground or low perches. Copulation occurs on the ground and can last anything from 2-60 minutes. Flight is fast and erratic with brief spells of hovering. Wings are held well forward when at rest. Females spend a lot of time resting in vegetation not far from water.

Habitat

Acidic wet heath and peaty moorland sites typically with sphagnum mosses, frequents pools, runnels and streams.

Flight Period

National: Mid-may to late September, usually early June to late August.
Yorkshire: Mid-June to early August.

keeski

Status

Confined to VC62 where it appears to be present in suitable sites surrounding Fylingdales Moor.

Locations

keeled-skimmer-orthetrum-coerulescens

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

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

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