We have acquired a new ‘puppy’. He is a Springer/Cocker cross so has boundless ene4renergy
Slieve League, Co. Donegal
Variable DamselflyThe Variable Damselfly can be confused with the Azure or Common blue at first sight, but if you look closely (or better still, examine a photograph at your leisure), the ‘U’ shaped mark on the thorax is joined onto the black ‘ring’ below it (they are separate in the Azure form), so that it looks like a Chalice, or Wine glass. They are more slender than other damselflies. Females have a green and a blue form. Another distinguishing feature is the shape of the pronotum (a little ‘collar, between the head and thorax) which has strongly trilobate margins. (In the Azure damselfly, this is much broader and flatter).
Common Blue DamselflyMale Common Blues can be distinguished from other damselflies by having a single black stripe on the side of the thorax, a black ‘Club’ shaped mark on segment 2 of the thorax, and all-blue upper surface of segments 8 and 9 of the abdomen. Immature males can be a paler blue or lilac, colour. The females can have variable colours, either blue, like the males, or the ‘drab’ form, which is a yellowish or pale biscuit colour. But all Common Blue females have a little spine sticking out below segment 8 of the abdomen.
Blue-tailed DamselflyMales are fairly easy to identify, with a metallic black body, and bright blue segment 8 on the abdomen, with green or blue thorax. Females can have a variety or colour forms at different stages of maturity. The image on the middle left shows the ‘rufescens’ phase eating a moth, with reddish-pink thorax and blue tail. This ‘rufescens’ form develops into a more yellow/brown appearance with the ‘brown ’tail’ (far left). Females can occur in a violet coloured, or greenish form also!Blue-tailed damselflies can be seen in flight from May to September, and are reputed to be tolerant to some degree of pollution or brackish water. This is a beautiful species to photograph, showing such variation in colours.
The Emerald damselfly looks larger, and sturdier than the the Blue damselflies, however, it appears to have a much weaker flight than the Blues. The female Emerald damsel, pictured here, has a green body, going into a burnished brown at the sides. It can perch with its wings half open, unlike the Blues, which close their wings fully at rest.Male Emeralds damselflies have a metallic green body, but as they mature, develop a bluish-white colour on the thorax and first two abdominal segments, and also on segments 8 and 9. These damselflies emerge in late June, and can be seen in flight up to September.
The Large Red damselfly is quite conspicuous, and unlikely to be mistaken for anything else with its red and black colouration, and black legs.This image is of a female, probably the ‘intermedia’ form. There are three colour forms with varying amounts of black on the body, and red and yellow thorax.Males have a predominantly red abdomen, with black on the 7th and 8th segments. Near the tips of the wings, there are black square shaped spots.The only other red Damselfly is the Small Red, which is not found in Ireland, though abundant in South West Europe, and in parts of Southern England and Wales.
Damselflies are a beautiful Order of species within the group that also contains the Dragonflies. This selection of photographs have been collected over the years. Damselflies are very variable, particularly in colour, which makes identification sometimes difficult. Identification is more often based on small features of their structure and anatomy rather than colours. Thus the Blue-tailed Damselfly doesn’t always have a blue tail!Azure DamselflyThis is a very common damselfly, to be seen on the wing from mid May (depending on the weather) until August. The head, thorax and abdomen of males are black and blue, while females have more black, with a blue or green thorax. Males have a characteristic black ‘U’ shaped mark on the second segment of the thorax. These damselflies are usually seen flying around emergent vegetation at the edges of ponds or ditches, or feeding by sunny ditches, hedges and woods. Beautiful to see, and photograph, though they don’t stay in one spot for long!