Calopteryx virgo (Linnaeus, 1758)
Status in Britain and Ireland:
Overall body length 45-49mm
Hindwing length 24-36mm
Mid May until early September
Photograph © J. Groom
Male Beautiful Demoiselle
The body is metallic blue-green with a red-brown ‘ tail light’ on the underside of segments 8-10. The wings are completely dark brown-black with iridescent blue veins. The wings do not have a pterostigma.
Banded Demoiselle. The males are similar but have a band of dark blue-black pigment across the wings. The females are harder to separate though Banded Demoiselle has narrower green iridescent wings as opposed to broader brown iridescent wings seen in Beautiful Demoiselle. In addition there is a pale brown dorsal stripe present on abdominal segments 8-10 which is darker in Banded Demoiselle and paler in Beautiful Demoiselle. These 2 species also have different habitat requirements which may aid identification though they can occur together if the habitat is varied.
Large damselfly with a distinctive fluttery flight. Males are very territorial and will perch on vegetation flicking open their wings in order to defend a suitable oviposition (egg laying) site. In courtship they flutter their wings to a prospective female and may also throw themselves onto the water. After copulation the female lays her eggs into emergent plant material while the male remains on guard nearby.
Only found along faster flowing streams and rivers with a sand or gravel bottom and often well shaded by trees.
The oldest records date back to 1895 at the Wyre Forest in the south of the county. Butler (1982) described this local species as being confined to certain areas namely Ludlow, Craven Arms, Highley and Cound. Fourteen years later Lockton et al. (1996) described the distribution as predominantly in the south west of the county along the rivers Onny, Teme, Corve, Clun, the Ledwyche Brook and as far east as the Severn. Clearly the distribution has altered with the current map showing an increase in records both centrally and in the north of the county. The range of Beautiful Demoiselle has extended up the River Severn and notably to the Rivers Roden and Tanat in the north west and Camlad in the far west resulting in a far wider county distribution. This may be due to changes in water quality, increased recorder effort or possibly climate change.
Where to see in Shropshire
Rea Brook in Shrewsbury, Mor Brook in Morville, River Teme near Bromfield, River Onny at Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, Montgomery Canal at Aston Locks (near Queens Head) and many more!