Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella


A common damselfly, the male one of the 'blue' damselflies likely to be encountered (similar to male Variable and Common Blue Damselflies, those species to follow) has a blue body with black markings and has an isolated ‘U’ shape on the second segment of the abdomen.  The blue antehumeral stripes on the thorax are narrower than the black lines below them (this also applies to the female) and there is a ‘bow tie’ shape on segment 10 of the abdomen.

The female has two colour forms but generally is green with much black on the abdomen, but there is also a blue form.

The Azure Damselfly is found at small and large ponds (broads) but is not usually found too far out from the bank side vegetation and likely to be seen from May onwards until at least the end of August.


Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum


Less common than the Azure Damselfly and more variable (as the name suggests!) in its markings the Variable Damselfly is also found in similar habitat to the Azure, often along well vegetated dykes.

The male’s antehumeral stripes are generally broken and can on occasions not be present at all.  There is a ‘wine goblet' shape on the second segment, which usually has a stem and segment 9 of the abdomen is mainly black.

The female, like the Azure has two colour forms: dark similar to the female Azure and a blue form, which has more blue on the back, when compared to the Azure.  There is a black thistle shape on segment two of the abdomen which differs from the shape found on the female Azure.

Mainly seen from May up until the end of July.

Variable Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum


The broad blue antehumeral stripes separate this blue damselfly from the Azure and Variable Damselflies.

The male usually a stalked black spot on segment two of the abdomen, which looks like a small ‘tree’ symbol and completely blue segments 8-9 with two black spots.

The female has two colour forms; blue and dull green with black marks on the abdomen consisting of a ‘thistle’ on segment two and rocket shapes on segments 3-7, but also has the broad antehumeral stripes of the male.

This species is often seen away from the margins, flying over open water. 

On the wing from the end of April till end of September.


Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans


A common species found in a wide variety of habitats (from late May until September), including brackish waters.

The male has a blackish abdomen with a blue segment 8 on the abdomen.  The lower thorax is blue as are the eyes.

Females have several colour forms (at least 5), violacea, infuscans, rufescens, infuscans-obsoleta and typica which is the same as the male.  The only difference between the sexes in this form is the spur under segment 9 of the female's abdomen, not an obvious feature!

Although this seems complicated, basically a blackish abdomen with a ‘coloured’ (usually blue) eighth segment to the abdomen denotes a Blue-tailed Damselfly.


The Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio is a rare damselfly and easily overlooked, but has been seen in recent years in Norfolk.

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Male with female form  

rufescens in wheel

Variable Damselfly-wheel Blue-tailed Damselfly-wheel

Male with female form

infuscans-obsoleta in wheel

Introduction to the Damselflies of Norfolk (2)

Azure (1) Azure (5) Azure (7)

Male                                                                          Pair in tandem female ovipositing                                                            Female (brown form)

Pair in wheel

Common Blue (1) Common Blue (2)

Male-the broad blue area on the side of the thorax                                  Pair in tandem                                                  

Image00001 Common Blue 3

Pair in tandem ovipositing