Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens
A striking damselfly, with the male having a metallic blue-green body, translucent wings, with a broad blue-black band across the outer part of the wing.
The female has a green metallic body with pale green iridescent wings.
Found along slow-moving water courses from May, up until August.
Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonata) are an interesting and colourful family of insects and in the Spring and Summer are worth looking out for near any body of water. Dragonflies are dependent on water for reproduction, but they can also be found away from water, including gardens.
Damselflies (Zygoptera-meaning equal wings) are distinguished from Dragonflies (Anisoptera-meaning unequal wings), very basically, by being: smaller in size, both front and rear wings being the same shape and with a tendency to hold the wings together over the body.
This is very much an introduction to Damselflies for beginners and only serves as a basic guide to the Damselflies likely to be encountered in Norfolk and therefore only the commoner species are covered here, in order to not confuse the beginner, but the rarer species are referred to in the text.
I hope this article is of some help for those wishing to identify, what is a fascinating but tricky family of insects to the uninitiated.
Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa
Basically, both sexes have a metallic green body, clear wings and tend to rest with their wings held half spread on waterside vegetation. The pterostigma is elongated and blackish.
Males have a powder blue pruinescence on segments 1-2 and 9-10 and have blue eyes.
Females have a thicker abdomen than the males with no blue pruinescence and have brown eyes.
Found towards the end of June through till at least September.
*The Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas is also found in Norfolk but is mainly restricted to the Brecks (e.g. Thompson Common).
The Willow Emerald Damselfly Chacolestes viridis from the Meditrranean is also found in Norfolk and is now found in many areas where there are overhanging Willows and Alders next to a water body such as a dyke. Strumpshaw Fen is one such site but there are now many others.
The Southern Emerald Damselfly Lestes barbarus is much rarer than the aforementioned species, but is periodically found at sites such as the toad pools at Winterton Dunes.
Male Female Pair in tandem
Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula
The first damselfly to emerge in Spring and as the name suggests are mainly red-bodied.
The male has a deep red abdomen with bronze and black bands, while the female (which has three colour forms) has more black on the abdominal segments in all colour forms. However, in all cases this is the only 'red' damselfy commonly encountered in the UK.
Temperature allowing, begins to appear towards the end of April and onwards into August.
*The Small Red Damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum is found at one site in Norfolk (Scarning Fen near Dereham) but is mainly a damselfly of boggy heaths in some southern counties.
Male Pair in tandem