THE BEAUTIFUL DEMOISELLE IN CUMBRIA
gorgeous 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 Scotland.
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
go! The green-brown females are less frequently seen.
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.
defend the best bits of vegetation overlooking the best sites
where females might lay eggs (see photo). 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:-
metallic colour on the wings in this species covers virtually
all the wing (sometimes the tips are more brownish). The similar
Banded Demoiselle (which occurs at one or two sites on the
Solway in the north of the county) has a distinct band on
the outer half of each wing.
full metallic wings of the Beautiful Demoiselle show
well in this splendid image
taken on the River Brathay and kindly submitted by
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