Thursday, 13 August 2015

Damsels in white tights!

Before I hightailed it up to Warwick last weekend, I joined a friend for a wander along the Aylesbury arm of the Grand Union canal, west of Wilstone Bridge. We were on the hunt for damsels sporting white tights, better known as White-legged Damselflies (Platycnemis pennipes)...obviously. Apart from being “uncommon”, they are also nice and easy to identify. If you find a damselfly with white legs, you’ve found, you guessed it, a White-legged Damselfly. Simples. No other UK species has white legs. If only everything in life were as straightforward!

They prefer slow-flowing streams and rivers and occasionally canals and ponds. Populations are localised, and found only in southern England and a few sites in Wales. Over a stretch of about 1km, we found at least 20 of them, along with what was likely double that number of Blue-tailed Damselflies (Ischnura elegans). I’d hoped to see maybe a handful so 20+ was fantastic.

Broadly speaking, the males are a pale blue. The females a pale creamy white when immature, becoming a pale green later. For more detailed info see here.

I watched this male fly up from his perch, snatch a fly from the air and then settle back to eat it - not something I'd ever seen a damselfly do before.

As a bonus, I found my first Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola), dressed for the part in its elegant greys and beiges.

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