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
Status

Evenly distributed across VC61-64, scarcer in VC65.

Locations
Distribution Map

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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

Often found in marginal vegetation in large numbers. Copulation last from between two to six hours, due to this, it is the most frequently observed species seen in the wheel position. Often females selected by the males are still in their immature colour forms. Females oviposit alone onto the tissue of aquatic plants and debris, where they are not usually harassed by the males. Frequently found in dull weather when other species are inactive. Larvae emerge after one to two years.

Habitat

Wide range including garden ponds, lakes, rivers, canals and ditches. Can also be found in brackish conditions and acidic peaty pools. More tolerant of pollution than other species, only really avoiding fast-flowing water. Readily disperses and is one of the first species to colonise new sites.

Flight Period
Status

Common and widespread throughout the area.

Locations
Distribution Map

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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

Large ponds and lakes are the main preference for this species. Can also be found along canals and rivers, but will also tolerate brackish conditions. The most abundant Zygoptera found in open areas.

Behavior

The most dominant species on large lakes and reservoirs, swarming over the waters surface far from the banks in sunny conditions. Readily settles on emergent vegetation and is aggressive towards others, even driving away larger species. Copulation lasts for around 20 minutes, frequently away from water. Oviposits into submerged and emergent vegetation, usually in tandem. If the female submerges the male will uncouple, guarding the area waiting for her to re-emerge. Females can submerge for up to an hour. Larvae live amongst submerged vegetation emerging after 1-3 years. They mature in surrounding areas over a period of around 12 days.

Flight Period

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
Distribution Map

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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.

22082009-comhaw-male-skipwith-paulashton

 

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

Prefers acidic conditions, consisting of bog pools, ponds and lake margins on moorland and heathland. Will also use slow-flowing sections of upland streams. Requires areas of emergent vegetation to breed.

Behavior

Males are territorial, regularly chasing off intruders of any species. They are relentless flyers and can often be found active in dull conditions. Copulation takes from 60-75 minutes, with pairs usually settling amongst the heather, shrubs or trees. The female oviposits alone, inserting the eggs into submerged vegetation. Oviposition may take place in dull weather, when the first sign of activity is the sound of rustling wings in low vegetation. Larvae develop over a period of two or more years amongst the submerged vegetation. They emerge, usually at night, on emergent plant stems. They regularly wander away from breeding sites to feed in sheltered areas, such as woodland rides.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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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

Lakes, ponds, gravel pits, canals, ditches and slow-flowing rivers. Will tolerate moderate levels of pollution.

Behavior

Males are territorial, even defending territories away from water. They are often observed hawking along woodland rides and hedgerows. This is a difficult species to approach when settled, the first sign of their presence is usually the rustling of wings, as the fly up from roosting places in tall grasses. Copulation is lengthy, the female then ovipositing into emergent floating vegetation, or decaying floating logs, where several females may oviposit together. Larvae emerge two to four years later at night, with the maiden flight taking place before dawn.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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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

Ponds, lakes, gravel pits, dykes, canals and slow-flowing rivers with rich marginal vegetation, also tolerant of brackish conditions. Seldom found far away from water.

Behavior

Males are territorial, rarely more than one male is present at small locations. Constantly patrols its territory, which it defends vigorously. Will take prey as large as Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata. Copulation takes place away from water and lasts around ten minutes. The female then oviposits alone into submerged vegetation. Larvae emerge after two years on to tall emergent vegetation. Emergence is usually synchronous at site level.

Flight Period
Locations
Distribution Map

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Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa

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Length

44mm, Wings 76mm

Males

Broad-bodied Chaser - Libellula depressa
Thorax brown, pale, broad antehumeral stripes; brown patches at base of wings; broad abdomen blue with yellow spots at sides, legs brown, eyes brown.

 

Females

Broad-bodied Chaser
Thorax brown, pale, broad antehumeral stripes; abdomen yellowish brown with yellow spots along sides; wings brown base areas.

Immatures

Both sexes yellowish.

Gallery

Broad-bodied Chaser Gallery

Habitat

Small lakes, ponds, garden ponds, ditches and canals with well-vegetated margins and sheltered sunny locations. Will use bog pools if they are not too acidic. Often, one of the first species to colonise new water bodies.

Behavior

Males are aggressively territorial, there seldom being more than one male at any small pond. They perch on stems of tall emergent vegetation, or on the ground, chasing off any intruding males that appear within their territory. Copulation takes place in flight, lasting for only a few seconds. The female oviposits by flicking the tip of her abdomen into the water rapidly, occasionally with the male guarding her nearby. Larvae live amongst the bottom debris, emerging after two to three years. Emergence at sites is usually synchronous on marginal and emergent vegetation.

Status

Widespread though scarce in VC65 Noert-east Yorkshire.

Flight Period
Locations
Distribution Map

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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

Highly territorial, males perch on bare areas of ground, typically on slightly raised areas such as stones, logs or bare soil, on the lookout for females and rival males. When patrolling over water they fly low, skimming over the surface. Copulation can take place in flight, where it will only last for a few seconds, though sometimes this can take place in vegetation where it may last up to 15 minutes. Oviposition occurs by dipping the abdomen into water, with the male often remaining nearby. Larvae live amongst the bottom silts, emerging after two to three years. Emergence usually takes place on vegetation, often several metres away from water.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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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

Preferences are quite catholic, including ponds, lakes, canals, ditches and slow-flowing rivers. It is tolerant of brackish conditions and peaty bog pools. Can be found away from breeding sites feeding in sheltered locations, like woodland rides and hedgerows.

Behavior

Males are territorial, spending a lot of time perched, only making short flights when disturbed or chasing off intruders. Basks on the ground, especially late in the season when temperatures are lower. Frequently found away from water in sheltered areas, especially females wanting to avoid attention from males. Copulation takes place at rest, lasting around 10-15 minutes. Oviposition regularly takes place in tandem, where the eggs are flicked into the water by dipping the abdomen onto the surface. Females will also oviposit alone. Larvae emerge after one year, this taking place during the morning, onto bare bank sides or emergent vegetation.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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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

Marshes, ponds, lakes, canals and ditches, with plenty of tall emergent vegetation. Will tolerate brackish conditions, using woodland near to water bodies for shelter.

Behavior

Males are less aggressively territorial than Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum. They have a ‘skippy’ flight, being less direct than the latter species. Copulation lasts only a few minutes whilst perched on vegetation or the ground. The female will then oviposit either alone, or in tandem, amongst shaded vegetation. Larvae live among submerged plants and emerge after one year.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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