Saturday, 23 June 2018

White-legged Damselfly

The pond at Piltdown

We ventured north of the district yesterday in search of the White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes). These elegant, feather-legged little damsels like to bask on abundant floating vegetation and the pond at Piltdown, which has caught my attention while driving past, looked a promising site.
My reason for hunting ‘featherlegs’ is to contribute to a survey that’s been organised by the British Dragonfly Society: the White-legged Damselfly Investigation. The point is to learn more about this species and add to our limited understanding of it. There are increasing concerns that this dainty little insect is in decline in Britain. More information about the survey can be found here.

The very first damsel I focused my binoculars on was a White-legged Damelfly, a male on an iris leaf manoeuvring its abdomen in the fashion of an ovipositing female. On closer inspection it was stuck to some spider silk. Once freed it stood on my finger for a few moments before gently alighting half a metre to another iris, where we both lingered for a little while.

The pond didn’t disappoint; it was alive with seven damselfly species, basking on what seemed every blade and leaf of vegetation. Black-tailed Skimmers patrolled the banksides while teeming Swifts screeched above them. Two hours later I had seen eight damselfly and dragonfly species, along with a few other species of interest.

Rutpela maculata long-horn beetle

Species seen:

Odonata (eight species) 
 Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)  2
White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)  2
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)  2
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)  29
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)  5
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)  120
Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas)  5
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)  12

Lepidoptera (eight species)
Nut Leaf Blister Moth (Phyllonorycter coryli)  - mines on hazel leaves
Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)  3
Large White (Pieris brassicae)  1
Small White (Pieris rapae)  4
Green-veined White (Pieris napi)  2
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)  1
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)  1
Comma (Polygonia c-album)  1

Coleoptera (one species)
Yellow and black Longhorn Beetle (Rutpela maculata) 2

White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)

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