Blue-tailed damselfly

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Blue-tailed damselfly
Blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans) male adult.jpg
Mature male
Ischnura elegans LC0356.jpg
Female, form rufescens
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Coenagrionidae
Genus: Ischnura
I. elegans
Binomial name
Ischnura elegans
  • Agrion elegans Vander Linden, 1820
  • Agrion rubens Evans, 1845
  • Ischnura lamellata Kolbe, 1885

The blue-tailed damselfly or common bluetail (Ischnura elegans) is a damselfly, belonging to the family Coenagrionidae.[1]

Subspecies and varieties[edit]

Subspecies and varieties include:[2]

  • Ischnura elegans ebneri Schmidt, 1938
  • Ischnura elegans elegans (Vander Linden, 1820)
  • Ischnura elegans pontica Schmidt, 1939
  • Ischnura elegans f. infuscans
  • Ischnura elegans f. infuscans-obsoleta
  • Ischnura elegans f. rufescens
  • Ischnura elegans f. typica
  • Ischnura elegans f. violacea


This species is present in most of Europe.[3] It is an extremely common species.


These damselflies can be found in a wide range of lowland environments, with standing and slow flowing waters, brackish and polluted water.[4]


Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) filmed in the U.K. on July 25, 2014

Ischnura elegans can reach a body length of 27–35 millimetres (1.1–1.4 in) and a wingspan of about 35 millimetres (1.4 in). Hindwings reach alength of 14–20 millimetres (0.55–0.79 in).[5] Adult male blue-tailed damselflies have a head and thorax patterned with blue and black. There is a bi-coloured pterostigma on the front wings. Eyes are blue.[4] They have a largely black abdomen with very narrow pale markings where each segment joins the next. Segment eight, however, is entirely pale blue.[4] At rest, the wings of most damselfly species are held back together, unlike dragonflies, which rest with their wings out flat. The thorax of juvenile males has a green tinge.[5]

Female blue-tailed Damselflies come in a variety of colour forms.[4] Juveniles may be salmon pink, form rufescens; violet, form violacea and a pale green form. The colour darkens as the damselfly ages. Mature females may be blue like the male, form typica; olive green thorax and brown spot, form infuscans or pale brown thorax and brown spot, form infusca-obseleta.[5][4]

Biology and behavior[edit]

Adults fly from April to September to early October.[4] The adult damselflies prey on small flying insects, caught using their legs like a basket to scoop the prey up while flying, or insects taken from leaves. Damselfly nymphs are aquatic, and prey on small aquatic insects or other aquatic larvae.

A male can try to interfere with a mating pair, by attaching itself to the mating male. The females always lay their eggs on the floating parts of the plants without any involvement of the male.

Blue-tailed Damselflies are superb fliers and can alter each of their four wing's kinematics in order to maneuver. A recent study has shown that they can compensate for a whole wing loss and even successfully maneuver and catch prey.[6]



  1. ^ Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., Ouvrard D. Catalogue of life
  2. ^ Biolib
  3. ^ Fauna europaea
  4. ^ a b c d e f BDS - British Dragonfly Society
  5. ^ a b c L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz British Insects: the Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies
  6. ^ Kassner, Ziv; Dafni, Eyal; Ribak, Gal (2016-02-01). "Kinematic compensation for wing loss in flying damselflies". Journal of Insect Physiology. 85: 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.jinsphys.2015.11.009. PMID 26598807.

External links[edit]