Description

Adult

Length: 45mm

Only two species of damselfly in Britain have obviously coloured wings. They both belong to the genus Calopteryx. In this species the wings of the mature male are very dark blue-black and those of the female are iridescent brown-green. The body colour is metallic blue-green in the male and green with a bronze tip in the female. The flight is fluttering, butterfly-like.

Flight Period: May (April) – August (September)

Larvae

Length: 17 mm

Long ‘horn-like’ antennae and long thin legs of the larva distinguish this as a demoiselle. The prominant ‘occipital tooth’ behind each eye and the single pale band on the caudal lamellae are distinctive to the Beautiful¬†Demoiselle.

Where to See

Latin NameCalopteryx virgo
Habitat

Mainly found along streams and rivers, particulary those with sand or gravel bottoms. The males rest on bankside vegetation waiting for females.

Status & Distribution

Locally abundant. Mostly found west of a line between Liverpool and Folkestone and in southern Ireland.
Main flight period is late May to end August.

Similar Species

The Banded Demoiselle (C. splendens) is the only other British damselfly with coloured wings.

Beware! A quick search of Google Images or Wikimedia tends to find related American species such as the Ebony Jewelwing Calopteryx maculata, also known as the Black-winged Damselfly, but such species do not occur in Europe and have never been known to fly the Atlantic.

Species GroupDamselflies
Identification Notes
  • Male Distinctive brown-black wings with metallic blue green body
  • Female Wings iridescent brown with metallic blue-green body with bronze tip
  • Males are much easier to spot than females. Found on banks of fast flowing streams.
  • Length: 45mm
  • May – September