Red-eyed damselfly


May 2022

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Fast facts

Size:  35mm long

Distribution:  Central & southern England, and the Welsh Borders. Not found in Scotland.

Seen:  April to September

Habitat:  Found in lakes, gravel pits, canals and slow-flowing rivers

Food:  Adults – small insects; Larvae – other invertebrate larvae, crustaceans, worms, snails, tadpoles

The male red-eyed damselfly is largely black in colour with striking burgundy-red eyes and blue bands at the top and end of the abdomen (segments 1 and 9 & 10). They have black legs and clear wings with a pale brown pterostigma (wing spot).

The female is also largely black with brown-red eyes, and green colouration on the sides of the thorax. They have short or incomplete yellow antehumeral (shoulder) stripes on the back of the thorax, and their pronotum (the plate-like structure that covers part of the thorax) is tri-lobed.

Damselfly larvae are fully aquatic and have external gills called caudal lamellae. The larvae measure  29-32mm long and have three 8-9mm caudal lamellae, are rounded and have three darker bands towards the end. The labium or extendable hinged jaw is long and narrow in this species.

The males often sit on water lily leaves defending their leaf from other males.

Created by:

Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service

Image credits, from top to bottom:
Paul Ritchie, Hans Hillewaert, Gail Hampshire (x2), all from

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