Calopteryx virgo

Common Name:
Beautiful Demoiselle
C. virgo
The Name
Calopteryx virgo (Linnaeus, 1758), the Beautiful Demoiselle, is a European damselfly. It is often found among fast-flowing waters.

Length around 45-49mm, wingspan for male around 58mm and for female around 63mm; Hindwing around 24-36mm; Larva around 30-35mm.

The male has dark brown-black wingtips with blue veins. Immature insects often have much paler, browner wings. They have metallic blue-green bodies and blue-green eyes. The female has dark brown iridescent wings, a white patch near the tip of the wings and a metallic green body with a bronze tip of the abdomen.

Comparing with similiar family species Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle), the difference exists in extention of the band in the wing patch.  The wing patch of C. splendens starts at the nodus but can reach up to the wing-tip in southern races. The nodus is the sharp dip mid-way down the upper edge of the wing. That of the C. virgo, the colouring on the wing starts before the nodus, further towards the body, than the Banded demoiselle.

Demoiselles are damselflies that belong to the family group called "Calopterygidae". This family includes two large damselfly species: the Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens and the Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo. Demoiselles have a graceful butterfly-like fluttering flight and are usually seen flying over riverside vegetation.


The Characteristics
Territorial males perch on bankside vegetation. They will flick their wings open and shut, occasionally chasing off passing insects, often returning to same perch. Females only visit water for egg-laying or seeking a mate, both sexes frequently stray well away from water. Flies slowly with a butterfly like flight and frequently settles on bankside vegetation or trees.

Preferred environment includes upland and lowland unpolluted lotic sites especially with wooded banks and of moderate flow with sandy and gravely beds. Restricted to faster running clear water, found only along streams and rivers, often acidic, with sand or gravel bottom. Mostly found along heathland or moorland streams, though can also occur in farmland and woodland, including well shaded streams. Prefers cooler water than Banded Demoiselle. As streams broaden this species gives way to Banded Demoiselle, where there may be a broad overlap. Occasional hybridisation may take place. Sensitive to waterway management (clearance of vegetation) and pollution.


The Reproduction and Development
Females oviposit alone with male guarding, laying up to 300 eggs at a time on emergent or floating plants, often on water-crowfoot. Like the Banded Demoiselle, they often submerge to do so. The eggs hatch after around 14 days. Again, like the Banded Demoiselle, the larva is stick-like with long legs and develops over a period of two years in submerged vegetation, plant debris or roots. They usually overwinter in mud or slime. Emerges at night on low vegetation often some distance away from habitat. Main flight period is late May to end August.


The Distribution
This species occurs Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa.
The Protection Status
Common, not theathened.

The Species on Stamps




With courteous to Mr. Richard Lewington for the Dragonfly Illustration
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