All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

The narrative was kindly written
 and supplied by
Mr Ken Crick

Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum)

A Species Narrative by Ken Crick

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Welcome to my new style narrative, the content of which has been kindly written and supplied by Ken Crick. The narrative is intended to give an insight into the life cycle and characteristics of the featured species.

Size: Approximate Length 33mm - Wing Span 38mm.
 
Male: The male (see above) is slim and elegant, this pale blue damselfly is usually identified by the black wine glass symbol located on the second abdominal segment. The eighth abdominal segment is pale blue; segment nine has a pale blue background into which is inserted a black square, the blue appearing as a fine frame.

The black on segment six covers ¾ of the segment. The upper surface of the thorax in front of the wings is marked with fine broken (antehumeral) stripes often compared to an exclaimation mark. Occasionally Coenagrion puella has been observed with this form of antehumeral stripe.

Female: It can be seen in two colour forms. The antehumeral stripes are complete. The dark forms upper surface is predominantly black. The segment joints are highlighted by fine grey /green lines. The second abdominal segment carries a closed thistle mark on a green background. The blue colour form has five interrupted blue bands on the leading edge of segments 3 to 7, the narrowest being that on segment 7.

The anterior border of the mark on the second abdominal segment forms a pronounced “W”. For definitive conformation of species, hand held specimens should be scrutinized, in particular the pronotum anterior border should resemble a shallow “W”. Confirmed females are best viewed in tandem with males particularly at sites where the Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) is also known to be present.

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Status: This species has a scattered distribution throughout England and Wales, where it can be locally common. It is widespread in Ireland.

Habitat: Preference for still water bodies and those with a very slow flow, may be ponds, lakes or ditches. Habitat is typically well vegetated and may be covered with Duckweed.

Flight period: Commonly seen from late May through to late July.

General: Often found in the company of Azure Damselfly (C. puella) around the vegetated margins of still and slow flowing water bodies. Males seem not to be territorial. Females and immature individuals spendmuch of their time in and around tall vegetation such as hedge rows and tall crops like rape and corn, not far from the breeding site.

Females come to the waters edge only to mate and egg lay. Copulating pairs remain joined for 10 to 15 minutes. Eggs are laid in both floating and submerged plant material preferably in a state of partial decay. Females are partially submerged while egg laying and the male usually only parts with her when the process is complete for the day and she has been drawn clear of the water.

As with Azures the presence of an egg laying pair often attracts other pairs to the same piece of vegetation.

This narrative was kindly written and supplied by Ken Crick

All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

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