Dragonflies and Damselflies

At Fairburn Ings over the years we’ve lost some species and are gaining some too. Dragonflies tend to hold their wings out perpendicular to their bodies when resting, like an aeroplane. Damselflies tend to fold their wings up and hold them together across the top of their backs. Below shows a table of species that have been recorded on the reserve as well as a few species of what to look out for.

Damselfly SpeciesStatus
Banded DemoiselleProbable resident: frequent
EmeraldResident: increasingly scarce
Large RedResident: moderately common
AzureResident: extremely common
Common BlueResident: extremely common
Blue-TailedResident: moderately common
Red-eyedNon resident
Dragonfly SpeciesStatus
Common HawkerAnnual: unlikely resident
Migrant HawkerResident: common
Southern Migrant HawkerNon resident: extremely rare
New addition 2019 – Pete Carr
Brown HawkerResident: common
Southern HawkerAnnual: possible breeder
EmperorResident: frequent
Golden-RingedNon resident: Occasional visitor
Four-Spotted ChaserResident: extremely coom
Broad-Bodied ChaserIncreasingly Scarce
Black-Tailed SkimmerResident: very common
Common DarterResident: extremely common
Ruddy DarterResident: extremely common
Black DarterNon resident: no recent record
Yellow-Winged DarterMigrant: only a single reserve record
Data from Fairburn Ings Advisory Group

Banded Demoiselle

Calopteryx splendens

One of Britain’s biggest damselflies. The male has large blue patches on each of its four wings, and a polished looking blue/green body. The females wings are a metallic green, with a polished looking green body

Wingspan 60mm
Flight season late April to August

Large Red Damselfly

Pyrrhosoma nymphula

One of the commonest British damselflies, found throughout the country and one of the first signs of spring. Both sexes have red abdomens; with yellow sides to its metalic green/black thorax.

Wingspan 48mm
Flight season April to August

Top – Alan Kelly
Bottom – Keith Boyer

Azure Damselfly

Coenagrion puella

The male of this species is typically blue with back markings. The females tend to be green or blue with more extensive black marking. They are often separated to the common blue by the ‘U’ shape on the body just below the wings.

Wingspan 42mm
Flight season April to mid-September

Alan Kelly

Ruddy Darter

Sympetrum sanguineum

Mature males are easily identified by their clubbed, blood red abdomen and all black legs. Females are browner with no waist.

Wingspan 54mm
Flight season early June lasting well into November

Top – Keith Boyer
Bottom – Alan Kelly

Black-Tailed Skimmer

Orthetrum cancellatum

The males has a blue abdomen with a black tips and are commonly known as the blue arrows. The females are yellow-brown with dark brown marking son the edge of the abdomen.

Wingspan 76mm
Flight season end of April to the beginning of September

Top – Keith Boyer
Bottom – Alan Kelly

Migrant Hawker

Aeshna mixta

Distinctively smaller than most other hawkers. The yellow T or nail shape below the wings on the abdomen is most notable in mature males, where it contrasts with the blue spots on the rest of the abdomen. Females and fresh males have more yellowish spots.

Wingspan 85mm
Flight season July to November

Keith Boyer

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