A Dragonfly a Day- Banded Demoiselle

Originally published 04/07/2015.

To kick start National Dragonfly Week I thought I would start ‘A Dragonfly A Day’ with a species that is by far one of my favorites. The Banded Demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens, is a stunning damselfly in both its male and female form and is fairly easy to identify, so it’s a great damsel for beginners.

ARKive image - Banded demoiselles mating

Habitat

The Banded Demoiselle favours slow moving water and can often be found on rivers, streams and sometimes canals. It is wide spread in the South of the UK and its range takes it up through Wales and the Midlands. It is absent from Scotland and is rarely seen in Northern England.

Appearance

This species stands out as it is one of only two damselfly species in the UK that have obviously coloured wings.

Male: metallic blue-green body. Wings are translucent and each wing has a broad, dark blue-black band, giving the appearance of a thumb print on each wing. This wing colouration is visible in flight and at rest.

Female: metallic green body, with bronze coloured segments 8-10. There is a narrow stripe down the middle of segments 8-10. Wings are a translucent pale green and are iridescent. Each wing has a white false wing spot near to the tip of each wing.

ARKive image - Banded demoiselle pair, with the male on the right

Behaviour

Males are territorial and will try to court females by flicking their wings open and performing a flight display. Despite them being territorial, you can often see large groups of males on bank-side vegetation. Females stay away from water until they are ready to mate, they lie amongst vegetation and can be very difficult to spot as they camouflage so well. They are fairly large in size for a damselfly and have very fluttery wing beats, similar to that of a butterfly, which can help in their identification.

Similar Species

Although the male banded demoiselle is unmistakable, the female looks very similar to the immature forms and female form of the Beautiful Demoiselle, Calopteryx virgo. To tell these two species apart can be tricky. The white false wing spot that both species has lies further from the tip in the Beautiful Demoiselle, compared to the banded demoiselle where it lies nearer to the tip. Comparing photographs of the two species may help you get to grips with this identification feature.

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Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies

Currently studying for an MRes in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Chester. Research focuses on the White-faced Darter, an endangered dragonfly species here in Britain. Rachel also has a blog titled 'working with wildlife'.
Rachel Davies

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