Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Name

Erythromma viridulum (Charpentier, 1840)

Family:

Coenagrionidae

Status in Britain and Ireland:

widespread in southern, eastern and central England- recent colonist

Local Status:

Rare

1st SHROPSHIRE RECORD 24th JULY 2019 at STOKESAY

 

Size:

Overall body length 26-32mm
Hindwing length 16-20mm

Flight period:

July until mid September

Small Red-eyed Damselfly Male
Photograph © P.Taylor

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly

The upper side of the body is black with metallic reflections from segments 2-8. The sides of segments 2-3 and 8 are blue with segments 9-10 completely blue. Segment 10 has a black ‘X’ at the tip. The thorax is black on top with either complete or partial antehumeral stripes. The thorax has blue sides with 2 black lines, the upper of which is a short spur. The eyes are red. The legs are pale with a some blue colouration on the femur. The wings are clear with yellowish brown pterostigma. When at rest the wings extend just beyond the join between segments 6 and 7.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly female
Photograph © E. Neilsen

Female Small Red-eyed Damselfly

The upper side of the body is black with small patches of blue at the base and tip of the abdomen. The thorax is black on top with complete antehumeral stripes. These stripes and the sides of the thorax can be yellow, green or blue depending upon the age of the individual. The eyes are reddish brown.

Similar Species

Red-eyed Damselfly is present at a number of sites in Shropshire and is very similar. It is a far more robust insect and the blue areas on the abdomen are more restricted being confined to segments 1,9 and 10. Red-eyed Damselfly has no black ‘X’ mark at the end of the abdomen and when at rest the wings extend further down the abdomen than the start of segment 7. In addition the females have short incomplete antehumeral stripes, not complete stripes as seen in Small Red-eyed Damselfly.

Behaviour

Males are often seen perched on floating vegetation with the end of the abdomen distinctively tilted upwards. Following copulation pairs oviposit in tandem into floating vegetation. Unlike the similar Red-eyed Damselfly, females rarely descend below the surface of the water to oviposit (Brooks & Cham, 2014).

Habitat

Ponds, lakes and ditches that are well vegetated with floating pondweed such as hornwort.

Shropshire Distribution

In 1999 the first small red- eyed damselfly was recorded in the UK in Essex. It quickly became quite common in the southeast of England and over the years has slowly moved north and westwards with records from Worcestershire, Herfordshire and in 2015 in Cheshire. After much anticipation it was finally recorded in Shropshire at Stokesay Castle, Craven Arms on 24th July 2019. Further sightings were then made on 5th August 2019 at Dudmaston and at Green Pond near Albrighton on 13th August 2019. The following year this species was again recorded in good numbers breeding again on the Dudmaston estate and a further record of an individual was made in North Shropshire at Whixall Moss.

Shropshire Distribution Map

Image © S. Rees Evans

Where to see in Shropshire

Only recorded so far at Stokesay Castle, Dudmaston, Green Pond near Albrighton and then Whixall Moss in 2020. As a new species to Shropshire it’s worth a good look at any pond, lake or ditch with floating vegetation, in particular Hornwort.

National Distribution

Additional Photographs

Copulating pair seen at Stokesay Castle. Photograph © B. Pugh

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly resting on lily pad at Dudmaston- behaviour more typical of Red-eyed Damselfly! Photograph © M. Garbutt

Male resting on feather at Green Pond, Albrighton. Photograph © M. Richardson