Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Emerald Damselfly

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

Male and female Emerald Damselflies, photographed by Richard Clarke in Monmouthshire in 2022

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) is a localised dragonfly in the county, being found mainly in the northwest uplands, with a scattering of sites around Newport, on the Gwent Levels and elsewhere.

The oldest record in our data set is from the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal near Sebastopol, on an unspecified date in 1967 (observer Derek Bolton).

Current distribution in the county: what we know

Post-2019 records from the northwest uplands come mainly from the Blaenavon to Brynmawr area and other sites west and south of here, from the Mynydd Twyn-glas / Cwmcarn forest area, and a scattering of other sites to the west of these. There are also sites around Risca and on the west side of Newport, and a few sites on the Gwent Levels. In the east of the county away from the Levels it is scarce, with recent records from only four sites.

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

In the past this species has been found at a widely spread set of sites in the north, centre and east of the county, and it may still be present at some of these; there may be other sites remaining to be discovered in these under-recorded parts of the county.

There are several sites on the Gwent Levels and in the northwest uplands where Emerald Damselfly has been recorded in the past but not recently; it could still be present at some of these and more widespread recording in these two areas will give a truer picture of its distribution. That there are no recent records from Uskmouth, our most well-recorded site, indicates that its apparent scarcity on the Levels is real.

Another Lestes species, Willow Emerald (L. viridis) has colonised England and is spreading rapidly westward, and may be found in Wales in the near future, so this possibility should be borne in mind for any new site, particularly in the east of the county.

Distribution elsewhere

Emerald Damselfly is a common and widespread damselfly throughout Wales, England and Scotland, in the north even reaching Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. Elsewhere in Europe, it is found from Ireland and northern Spain east to Russia, north to Scandinavia and Finland, and south to the Alps and the Balkans; its range also extends a long way into Asia, from Turkey east to Japan.