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Overview

Brief Summary

The common blue damselfly is commonly found in the vicinity of stagnant water. It flies back and forth, low over the surface. The abdomen of the male is blue with black spots. The female is more yellowish, blue with black markings and the back side underneath the last segment is pointed. The dark spot in the wings is diamond-shaped. Common blue damselflies are found just about everywhere, including the wadden region, along the dune coastline and in the delta region.
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Biology

Common blue damselflies appear in mid to late May and their flight period lasts right through the summer months to September. Adults live for around 12 days on average and in this short period they must breed. Mating can take up to 20 minutes and the females lay their eggs in the tissue of plants both above and below the water line and are capable of remaining submerged for some time. The male will stay guarding her at the point where she entered the water. Damselflies and dragonflies spend the greater part of their lives as larvae, sometimes as much as three years. The larvae are predatory hunters, feeding on other water creatures that also lurk amongst the waterweed. When ready to emerge, the larva climbs up a plant stem free of the water and, once the insect's outer case has dried and split, the final perfect damselfly frees itself from the chrysalis by arching its body backwards. Once free, the adult insect pumps blood into its wing veins until the wings are fully expanded.
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Description

Dragonflies and damselflies can appear alarming to some people, and their old English country names of 'horse-stingers' and 'devil's darning needles' suggests they were once feared. This fear probably stems from the long and usually striped abdomen characteristic of these insects and the fact that they can curl their 'tails' down as if preparing to sting. In fact, neither dragonflies nor damselflies have the capacity to sting, although they are predatory insects, both in the larval and adult stages. All flying insects evolved originally with two pairs of wings although, in some species, the front pair has become modified to act as wing covers. These species include various beetles, crickets and cockroaches. Other insects have effectively lost the hind pair of wings, having two pin-shaped balancing organs in their place. Dragonflies and damselflies have retained both pairs as membranous wings, both effective in flight. Both dragonflies and damselflies are strong and swift fliers, and both pairs of wings are similar in size. Apart from their smaller size and generally more slender build, the easiest way to distinguish damselflies from dragonflies is the position of the wings when the insect is resting. Dragonflies rest with both pairs of wings held perpendicular to the body, whereas damselflies hold them almost parallel. As the name suggests, the common blue damselfly is one of the commonest species in Great Britain. They can be confused with other blue damselflies and this situation isn't helped by the fact that the markings on this species are rather variable. Adult males are predominantly blue, spotted with black markings resembling stripes. Adult females are much darker with larger areas of black and usually a green background colour, although there is a blue form, again with larger areas of black.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is widespread in large parts of Europe and northern Asia.
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Range

Common blue damselflies are found across most of the UK, and are probably the most widespread member of the 'blue' damselflies. It is also one of only two species of damselfly that can be found in both Europe and North America, its range almost completely circling the Northern Hemisphere.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Enallagma cyathigerum inhabits all types of ponds, lakes and also slow rivers. Huge densities occur in acid waters where fish are unable to survive.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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This species is found around open lakes and ponds, along river and canal banks, and streams, provided there is plenty of bankside vegetation.
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Associations

Known prey organisms

  • Warren PH (1989) Spatial and temporal variation in the structure of a freshwater food web. Oikos 55:299–311
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Known predators

Enallagma cyathigerum is prey of:
Enallagma cyathigerum
Lestes sponsa
Aeshna juncea
Sympetrum scoticum
Notonecta glauca
Agabus sturmii
Agabus bipustulatus
Ilybius fulginosus
Holocentropus picicornis

Based on studies in:
England, Skipwith Pond (Lake or pond)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Warren PH (1989) Spatial and temporal variation in the structure of a freshwater food web. Oikos 55:299–311
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Enallagma cyathigerum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 21
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2009

Assessor/s
Dow, R.

Reviewer/s
Clausnitzer, V. & Kalkman, V.

Contributor/s

Justification
Enallagma cyathigerum is widespread and common in large parts of Europe and northern Asia. In the northern part of its range one of the most common damselflies. There is a possible future threat from habitat destruction and water pollution, as some of it's habitat is not as suitable as it could be, but that does not appear to be having an effect on the global population yet.
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Status

Common in the UK
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Population

Population
The species is widespread and common in large parts of its range and in the north it is one of the most common species. There is no information available on population trend.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
There appear to be no known threats affecting the species currently, but risks of habitat destruction and water pollution are likely to have an effect on populations in the future, especially as the majority of preferred habitat appears to be of marginal use.
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Common blue damselflies are still common and widespread and do not appear to be threatened. Provided they find clean water and plenty of marginal vegetation, they seem to be a successful species. They also colonise new water bodies, especially flooded gravel pits, extremely rapidly.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no conservation measures in place at present, but they are needed to mitigate the strong possibility of habitat destruction in the future.
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Conservation

As this species remains widespread and common, there are currently not conservation plans for this species.
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Wikipedia

Common Blue Damselfly

Enallagma cyathigerum (common blue damselfly, common bluet, or northern bluet) is a European damselfly. The species can reach a length of 32 to 35 mm (1.3 to 1.4 in). It is common in all of Europe, except for Iceland.

Identification[edit]

Thorax close-up

The common blue damselfly can be easily mistaken for the azure damselfly] (Coenagrion puella), but on the back and the thorax, the common blue damselfly has more blue than black; for the azure damselfly it is the other way around. The second segment of the thorax has a distinctive spot with a line below connecting to the third segment.

Another difference can be observed when inspecting the side of the thorax. The common blue damselfly has only one small black stripe there, while all other blue damselflies have two.

Oviposition on Marsilea quadrifolia

During mating, the male clasps the female by her neck while she bends her body around to his reproductive organs – this is called a mating wheel. The pair flies together over the water and eggs are laid within a suitable plant, just below the surface.

The eggs hatch and the larvae, called nymphs, live in the water and feed on small aquatic animals. Nymphs climb out of the water up a suitable stem to moult into damselflies.

Behaviour[edit]

This small, brightly coloured damselfly is probably the most common of dragonflies and damselflies throughout much of Britain. It inhabits a wide range of habitats, from small ponds to rivers. They are especially common at lakes and reservoirs.

This damselfly requires a close look for a beginner to distinguish them from an Azure Damselfly. Typically, they fly low through the reeds and often fly well out over the water, unlike azure damselflies. They are also a brighter blue than azures. They can be easy to get close to, but to tell them apart from an azure damselfly it is good to know what to look for.

See also[edit]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

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