Species of the Month - July 2017

Each month we feature a picture of a species to be found on The Commons. Wherever possible, all species featured have been photographed here. This month's species is the Banded Demoiselle or Calopteryx splendens. It is also sometimes called the Banded Agrion.

With its prominent flight, the Banded Demoiselle is perhaps one of the most noticeable of all the Odonata. One of the largest damselflies to be seen in the UK, it is also one of the most beautiful. Although many have been found around the country in June, these pictures of a male (top image) and female were taken on The Common in July in 2014 and 2015. Its usual habitat is canals and slow moving rivers with muddy beds, but it can also be seen on our reed beds through to August.

The distinctive dark blue-black band across the central portion area on the wings is present only on the male; those of the female are iridescent pale-green. The distinctive flight is fluttering, butterfly-like and the males often perform a fluttering display flight in front of females. The body colour of the male is metallic blue-green, whilst the female is green with a bronze tip to her abdomen.

Damselflies hold their wings closed above their backs, rather than keeping them outstretched as dragonflies do. They start life underwater as nymphs, catching their food with extendable jaws: indeed their scientific name Odonata derives from the Greek meaning ‘tooth’ because of the toothed jaws. Throughout Europe there are names, folk lore and tales of them being part of the Devil’s work, which seems rather unfair.

More pictures and information can be found at the Wildlife Trusts and British Dragonflies websites.

Click here to see other Species of the Month, or here for last year's Plants of the Month.