Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Variable Damselfly

Distribution map of Variable Damselfly in Monmouthshire, April 2023
Distribution map of Variable Damselfly in Monmouthshire, April 2023, produced using the DMAP for Windows software written by Alan Morton, www.dmap.co.uk

Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum) is a damselfly species which occurred on the Gwent Levels in the past but there are no recent records.

The oldest record in our data set is from the Wentlooge level near St Brides, on 29 July 1981 (observers Colin and Ian McLean). Most of the mapped records date from the 1980s, with records this century coming from just one site, the Wentlooge level just southwest of Newport, where it was last recorded in 2011.

Some of the older records are from larval surveys, and the identification criteria used at the time are now known not to be totally reliable, so the map may overstate the past distribution in the county to some extent.

Variable Damselfly is often present in low numbers among large populations of the more common Azure Damselfly (C. puella) and so targeted surveys where recorders closely examine all blue damselflies seen may be needed to establish its continued presence.

It is a scarce and localised species elsewhere in Wales too, with scattered populations from Glamorgan north to Anglesey. In England its main distribution is from Somerset east to Kent, north through the Midlands and East Anglia to Yorkshire. A population in Cumbria links with the main Scottish population in Dumfriesshire, and there are outlying populations further north on the Scottish west coast. It is widespread in Ireland, and on the continent occurs from the Pyrenees east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia and Finland, and south to Italy and Greece; it is also found in Turkey.