Small red-eyed damselfly – Erythromma viridulum

Small red-eyed damselfly (image: wikipedia)

Often overlooked ultramarine marvel on a migration north

Whilst the original Cabinets of Curiosity prized (and often mythologised and fabricated) objects sourced from far-flung, exotic locations, this tiny curiosity shows you can find amazing creatures in your back garden, if only you look hard enough.  Common to weed-strewn lakes in southern Europe, the small red-eyed damselfly is tracking a warming climate north, and is the first dragonfly to have colonised Britain since records began.

In summer months throughout central Europe, you are likely to see the iridescent blue flash of the dragonfly flitting through reedbeds and bankside vegetation.  If you are lucky, you may witness the dragonfly’s peculiar mating ritual, where the male and female embrace in a heart-shape.

Male (left) and female (right) damselflies in a heart-shaped embrace (image: Ann Brooks, with permission)

Easily confused with its larger relative the Red-eyed damselfly, the small red-eyed damselfly is coloured shimmering sky-blue, with crimson red eyes.  The small red-eyed dragonfly can be distinguished by the way it holds its abdomen in an upcurve.

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