Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula
This large, robust creature commonly has extensive black markings, red antehumeral stripes and black legs. They readily colonise small ponds and can be seen at any of the NWT nature reserves
Conservation status in Norfolk
Large Red Damselfly is not currently threatened in Britain, but has apparently declined in eastern England over recent decades due to more intensive agricultural practices.
How to help
Large Red Damselfly is a species that readily colonises small ponds, so creating a pond in your garden is a good way to support this springtime species. The pond should be unshaded and have plenty of shallow areas that warm up quickly in weak sunshine. Submerged plants will provide a suitable habitat for larvae and emergent plants are required by the damselfly as it sheds skin to the adult stage. Taller grasses or reeds close to the waters edge will provide roosting areas for the adult insects, but these plants should not occupy the southern edge of the pond if this can be avoided
Information on the Large Red Damselfly
How to recognise
There are only two species of red and black damselfly in Britain, the Large Red Damselfly and the Small Red Damselfly. The Large Red Damselfly, as suggested by its name, is the larger and more robust insect. Furthermore it can be distinguished by its black legs and the broad red, or occasionally yellow, antehumeral (shoulder) stripes. The Small Red Damselfly has red legs and very narrow or non-existent antehumeral stripes. There are three colour forms of female Large Red Damselfly ranging from a nearly all black form with yellow antehumeral stripes to females that have almost as little black on the abdomen as a male. The most common female form is partway between these extremes having extensive black markings only on the last four segments of the abdomen and red antehumeral stripes.
Where to see
Small Red Damselfly can be found in parts of Wales and southern Britain, but the species only has one site in Norfolk. The Large Red Damselfly by contrast is a common and widespread damselfly. It favours ponds, ditches and dykes, but can also be found in acidic wetlands like those at NWT Grimston Warren and NWT Roydon Common. In the Broads good numbers can often be found close to the boardwalk paths at NWT Cockshoot Broad and NWT Hickling Broad
When to see
Large Red Damselflies are usually the very first species of dragonfly to emerge each spring with the first individuals taking to the wing in April. Their main flight period covers May and June, but late emerging specimens can occasionally be seen in August.
Did you know?
The long, thin bodies of damselflies, darting to and fro, have been likened to the hand stitching of a sewer as the needle passes in and out of the cloth. This has given rise to English folk names such as Devil’s Darning Needle or Granny’s needle.
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