Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Azure Damselfly

Distribution map of Azure Damselfly in Monmouthshire, March 2024
Distribution map of Azure Damselfly in Monmouthshire, March 2024, produced using the DMAP for Windows software written by Alan Morton, www.dmap.co.uk

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) is one of the most common and widespread damselfly species in the county; it and Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) are the two damselfly species that can be expected in any standing water habitat, even small garden ponds, and in slow-flowing riverine habitats too. Azure Damselfly, rather than Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) is the more common blue damselfly at smaller waterbodies; Common Blue Damselfly is typically found at larger and better sites.

The oldest record in our data set is from the Usk Valley on 10 June 1968 (observer G. A. N. Horton).

Current distribution in the county: what we know

There are many post-2019 records across the Gwent Levels, around Newport, in Torfaen, through the western valleys and in the northwest uplands, around Abergavenny, Monmouth, and in the Usk and Wye valleys, with a scattering of records elsewhere.

Current distribution in the county: what we don’t know

There are large gaps in the mapped distribution, however. As with many species, there are large areas in the north and east of the county with no records at all, or with only older records. This is almost certainly because no-one has visited sites in these areas recently to record dragonflies, rather than because the species is not present: there is much suitable habitat there.

Also, on the Levels, there are several areas with older records only, and no recent ones: this is almost certainly not the true position and with more widespread recording, it is likely that the species will still be found widely across the Levels.

It is likely that Azure Damselfly is under-recorded, as inexperienced observers may have identified blue damselflies as Common Blue Damselfly (a reasonable assumption given the name); visits to sites with records of Common Blue Damselfly but no records of Azure Damselfly are likely to show both (or in some cases only Azure) to be present.

Distribution elsewhere

Azure Damselfly is a common and widespread damselfly throughout Wales. Its status in England is similar, though it is missing from large areas of the northern Pennines; it is widespread and common in lowland areas of southern and central Scotland, but becomes very localised in the highlands of the north and west. Elsewhere in Europe, it is found from Ireland and Portugal east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia, and south to Italy and Greece, though it is missing from much of Spain; it is also found in parts of North Africa, Turkey and Central Asia.