Species of the month: June - Banded Demoiselle

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Common Name: Banded demoiselle

Scientific Name: Calopteryx splendens

Identification: Banded demoiselles are sexually dimorphic. This means that the males and females are visually different from one another. The males are a metallic blue, with large black markings in the centre of each wing (giving the species its name). The female is metallic green, with translucent, green-hued wings. They can grow to a length of around 48mm. They have a gentle, fluttering, butterfly-like flight.

Diet: The adult demoiselles catch small insects such as flies and mosquitos. The larvae eat any pond dwelling creature smaller than themselves, such as worms or even fish fry!

Behaviour: The first banded demoiselles emerge in early May and emergence continues up to September. Adult damselflies and dragonflies are short-lived, so they must find a mate fast. Males perform aerial displays to win over females (and to establish territories). Once paired, they mate, then the female lays her eggs whilst the male guards her.

When the nymphs hatch from the eggs they spend 2 years in the water, catching prey. When they are ready to metamorphose, the nymphs crawl up a stem, out of the water. Here, their outer shell hardens, and they undergo the change into an adult damselfly, emerging from their former exoskeleton (now called the exuvia).

Where can they be found?: Banded demoiselles prefer slow flowing streams and rivers with muddy bottoms where they can complete their lifecycle.

Dorset Wildlife Trust reserves where you might see banded demoiselles include Mill Ham Island near Child Okeford, Peascombe near Bridport and Troublefield in Hurn.

  • When laying her eggs, the female submerges herself underwater. The male guards her at the surface.

  • Females can lay an egg every 2-6 seconds.

  • Banded demoiselles are intolerant of polluted water, making them indicators of good quality habitat.

Wildife Gardening Tips:

  • To encourage damsel and dragonflies in your garden, create a wildlife pond with plenty of marginal vegetation where eggs can be laid, and nymphs can crawl up to metamorphose into adults.
  • If you’re short on space, consider making a bucket pond. Anything from a bucket to an old sink can do the trick. Line it with a little mud and include some plants.
  • For a slightly different feature, think about creating a bog garden. This is a permanently damp area with marshy vegetation which will support dragonflies and damselflies.

Let us know if you've seen a Banded Demoiselle below...

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