THE BEAUTIFUL and BANDED DEMOISELLE IN CUMBRIA
Beautiful Demoiselle damselfly is found in
the Lake District mainly in the area between Coniston and
Windermere. It is a species that likes clean flowing water
and does not tolerate pollution well - consequently its other
strongholds are the south west of England, Wales and West
begins in late May but mature adults don't generally appear
at the streamside until mid-June, spending the intervening
time feeding and developing elsewhere. They are on the wing
throughout June and July and often into August.
large damselfly actually looks more like a butterfly when
seen in flight, and a slightly tipsy butterfly at that (an
old folk name for the damselfly is "water butterfly"
probably because of this species). The blue males seem to
loll about as though they can't quite decide which way to
of this colourful species were often painted in the margins
of illustrated manuscripts in the Middle Ages, suggesting
they were perhaps more common at that time.
of the best sites I know for Beautiful Demoiselle occurs at
the southern outflow from Yew Tree Tarn, near Coniston. Here
there is a sunny glade and even a bench to sit on while you
take in the sight. Hundreds of people must pass here every
week in summer but most look the other way over the tarn and
few probably notice the delightful behaviour of this species
behind them (or the nesting Titmice, Pied Flycatchers etc.)!
Other prominent sites include a large population on Cunsey
beck on the west shore of Windermere and they can also be
watched well from the bridge at Sparkbridge on the River Crake.
defend the best bits of vegetation overlooking the best sites
where females might lay eggs (as in the photos above). At
rest, with wings folded along the body, they might seem to
be just a dark damselfly, but when they open their wings the
metallic sheen becomes more obvious. It is when they fly in
the sunshine that the eye sees a stunning blue shimmer:-
contrast, the Banded Demoiselle has a distinct
band on the outer half of each wing and at rest or in flight looks
obviously "banded" (as in the image below).
the clear areas at either end of the wings. When seen together
the Banded looks the smaller of the two species - the abdomen
is slightly shorter, but the wings are noticeably shorter and
Banded Demoiselle is much less common than the Beautiful in
Cumbria, though it is relatively common from Cheshire southwards.
It has a similar lifestyle, but the Banded usually prefers
much slower flowing, or even still, water than the Beautiful
recently it was found only at a few sites in the north of
the county close to the Solway and more recently on the Derwent
near Cockermouth. However, since 2010, it has been seen for
the first time at a number of sites in the south of the county
on the rivers Gilpin and Bela. Unusually, at Pool bridge near
the Howe, both species can be seen on either side of the same
bridge - the Banded usually being found on the south-east
of both species are less frequently seen, unless ovi-positing
and watched over by the last male with which it has mated.
Females of both species are very similar in appearance, developing
from brown to brown-green, but unlike the males have no pigmented
areas on the wings at all. Beautiful Demoiselle females have
larger wings than Banded and the wings usually have a distinct
brownish tinge (as in the image below):-