03 Jun
British Black-winged Demoiselles – not American tourists

British Black-winged Demoiselles – not American tourists

With June being the start of their flight season, we’re receiving more and more reports of spectacular damselflies with “very dark wings”. A quick search of Google Images or Wikimedia tends to find American species such as the Ebony Jewelwing Calopteryx maculata, also known as the Black-winged Damselfly, but it isn’t necessary to expect them to have crossed the Atlantic. In Britain we have two species of our own and they’re just as attractive.

The males use their showy wings to signal to each other and to females, as shown spectacularly in high-speed filming, where the action can be slowed down many times.

Banded Demoiselle
Calopteryx splendens
More common. Males have tint restricted to a central band on each wing.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Calopteryx virgo
Less common but increasing its range. Males have almost fully-tinted wings. These are irridescent, showing as black in some lights and metallic green in other lights.

The photos above are of the males; females have similar body colours but only a very subtle, even tint to the wings. Females of the two species are hard to tell apart.

There is plenty more information and distribution maps for each species on our Damselflies page.

David Hepper, Records Officer & Webmaster