Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The damselflies get ready to party

Like their larger cousins the dragonflies the damselflies are also hatching earlier, by several weeks. Here is a newly emerged damsel that has fluttered to a perch on which to hide. If damselflies had to catch their breath, this is the moment. When they first heave themselves out of the old larval skin, left clinging to a stem of reed or grass around the edge of the pond, the newbie adults are dull coloured and poor flyers. The blues, reds or greens of the mature adult have yet to burgeon and instead the dull, faintly marked brown intermediate is called a teneral. This one had just about made it to a handy branch, then snuck around the other side where it thought I might not see it. At this stage it can be hard to identify the species but this one if likely to be an Azure Damselfy, which are one of the most common. A give away is the dark line that runs diagonally to about half way across the thorax, in the photo just to the bottom right of the thick black bar that runs the length from the wing bases to the rear of the neck. This half-a-line is typical of the Genus  Coenagrion and in Northumberland Coenagrion puella, tha Azure damselfly, is the only likely find. That is a bit of a cheat, I know. It could instead be a remarkable find of a species never before found up here, and I will double check. For now I did not want to scare the little damsel. It feels a bit intrusive, sneaking up to gawp as it gets changed to dance and fight away the days of summer in search of a mate.

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