Dragonflies and Damselflies

Dragon or Damsel?

Dragonflies are larger, usually with a body legth of between 35 and 85mm. Their bodies are sturdy and at rest their wings are held more or less at right angles to their body. Many species are more likely to be seen flying than perched.

Damselflies are altogether much daintier with slim bodies and most have an overall legth of between 30 and 40mm, although the Demoiselles are a bit larger. They are weak fliers, so are more likely to be seen perched when they almost all fold their wings back along their abdomen.

Both dragons and damsels require water to reproduce as the larvae develop in the bottom of ponds or slow-moving streams. You may get dragonflies in a garden pond but the best place to see them is in the Combe Valley as the pools, ditches and reed-beds are ideal breeding places.

Some common Dragonflies

female Emperor

The male Emperor, our largest dragonfly, is mainly blue and like other hawkers spends a lot of time in the air. The female, pictured, has to spend some time at the water surface to lay her eggs.

Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker

Another dragonfly that is fairly common but rarely seems to settle. The male, pictured, has blue and yellow marking on its black abdomen, whereas the female has brown and yellow on black.

Common Darter
male Common Darter

A very common dragonfly, which is only likely to be confused with the less common Ruddy Darter. Females have a yellow ochre abdomen.

Broad-bodied Chaser
female Broad-bodied Chaser

Not so common but unmistakeable when seen. The male has a powder-blue abdomen with yellow spots at the edge. They often perch and don't mind if you get quite close.

Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser

Similar wing marking to the Broad-bodied Chaser but it has four spots on each pair of wings. The abdomen of both sexes is mainly black/brown with yellow lines.

Black-tailed Skimmer
Black-tailed Skimmer

The leading edge of each wing is bright yellow and the male has a powder blue abdomen with a black tail end. The female has a yellow abdomen with 2 black stripes running its length.

Some Common Damselflies

Large Red Damselfly
female Large Red Damselfly

A very common damselfly, this is the only red one you are likely to see in this area. The male has even less black on its abdomen that the female shown here.

Azure Damselfly
male Azure Damselfly

Easily the most common 'blue' damselfly around here, although it can be confused with the much less common Common Blue and the Variable Damselfly.

Blue-tailed Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly

Another very common damselfly identified by its blue tail. However, the female has 5 different colour forms. Locally it can be confused with 2 fairly rare Red-eyed Damselflies.

Beautiful Demoiselle
male Beautiful Demoiselle

The Demoiselles both have larger wings than other damsels and a more fluttery flight. The female Beautiful Demoiselle has iridescent dark brown wings.

Banded Demoiselle
male Banded Demoiselle

Similar to the male Beautiful Demoiselle except that the wings have just a dark band. The female has a metallic green body and iridescent pale green wings.