Portugal Wildlife

Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of a Wildlife Reserve in Baixo Alentejo

All Photographs were taken by the website author on the reserve unless otherwise stated.

Species Notes Photographs Photographs Photographs

 

 

 

Damselflies

 

 

 

Small Spreadwing

Lestes virens virens

Lestes menor
 

Mating pair of Small Spreadwings. Male at top of picture. Note that this sub-species has bicoloured pterostigmae. A pterostigma is a cell in the outer wing of an insect that is thickened or coloured and so stands out from other cells - particularly notable in many dragonfly species. They assist in gliding flight by controlling wing vibrations that would slow the speed of the insect.

 

Common Winter Damsel

Sympecma fusca

Libelinha hirbernante
 

Hibernating adults of this species characteristically have blue eyes, as here.

 

Active throughout the year.

 

 

Mating Common Winter Damsels.

 

Dainty Bluet

Coenagrion scitulum

Libelinha da cabeça do gato; Libelinha delicada
 

 

Male.

Mating pair.

 

Common Blue Damselfly

Enallagma cyathigerum

Libelinha do cogumelo; Libelinha azul comum
 

Female egg-laying (ovipositing). She will lay her eggs in the aquatic plant's stem and the resultant larvae will live in the pond until ready to hatch into an adult damselfy.

Egg-laying while clinging to Stream Water-Crowfoot plant.

Ovipositing.

 

 

Male. This species is found throughiut Portugal and is one of the most widespread Damselflies found across Europe to Eastern Asia.

Male.

Females can be various colours.

Goblet-marked Damselfly

Erythromma lindenii

Libelinha do vaso grego
 

Male.

 

 

Male.

Iberian Bluetail or Bluetailed Damselfly

Ischnura graellsii

Iscnura ibero magrebina
 

Iberian Bluetails mating. The upper damselfy is the male (blue) and the female is below.

Male.

 

 

Male.

Mating pair.

Mating.

 

 

Male.

Female.

Male. This species is quite small - only 26-31mm in length.

 

 

Female.

Male.

 

 

Female.

Male Iberian bluetail. This species is found throughout Portugal.

 

 

 

 

Dragonflies

 

 

 

Blue Emperor

Anax imperator

Imperador azul; Tira-olhos imperador
 

Male. The Blue Emperor is Europe's largest Dragonfly.

Male.

 

 

 

Female Blue Emperor caught in web of Banded Garden Spider.

Female Blue Emperor caught in web of Banded Garden Spider.

 

 

Lesser Emperor

Anax parthenope

Tira-olhos menor
 

Mating pair of Lesser Emperors.

 

 

 

Broad Scarlet or Scarlet Dragonfly

Crocothemis erythraea

Libélula escarlate

 

Male Broad Scarlet.

Female. This species is found throughout Portugal.

Male Broad Scarlet. Note the breadth of the abdomen which gives this dragonfly its name.

 

 

Female.

Note red legs which distinguish this male Broad Scarlet from a Redveined Darter.

 

 

Female. Note white dorsal stripe on thorax.

Male.

Male. The bright green foliage behind the dragonfly is grass growing at the spring which helps fill Windmill Pond. So even in late August this area is wet and alive with dragonflies

 

 

The Broad Scarlet (36-45mm long) is a little larger than a Redveined Darter (33-40mm long).

Male.

Female Broad Scarlet.

 

 

Note the marked red basal suffusion to the wings of this male Broad Scarlet.

Female. This species has expanded its range Northwards from Africa into Southern Europe.They also occur in West Asia.

 

 

Female.

Male Broad Scarlet flying. Photographed in South Africa.

Female Broad Scarlet egg-laying. Photographed in South Africa.

Blacktailed Skimmer

Orthetrum cancellatum

Ortétrum de cauda negra; Ortétrum reticulado
 

Female.

Male.

Female or Teneral male. A Teneral is a newly emerged adult dragonfly that is soft and shiny and lacks the full colouration of a mature adult.

 

 

Male.

Male.

 

 

Female hovering above Windmill Pond.

Female or Teneral male. Most likely a Female.

Female egg-laying (ovipositing) in Windmill Pond.

 

 

Male.

 

Epaulet Skimmer

Orthetrum chrysostigma

Ortétrum de faixa branca
 

Male.

Male. Note the small yellowish patch at base of hindwing which distinguishes this dragonfly from similar species.

 

 

Male.

Note the characteristic slender and waisted abdomen near its base.

 

 

This species is widespread in Northwest Africa and across the Mediterranean basin from Portugal to Turkey.

Male.

Long Skimmer

Orthetrum trinacria

Ortétrum comprido
 

Male. The Long Skimmer is a mainly African species, that also occurs in Iberia, especially in the South, and parts of Italy. It is quite large: 51-67mm in length.

Female.

Male. This species is classed as "Potentially Threatened" by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in its Red Data List.

 

 

Female.

This species was first discovered in Iberia in 1980. It is not common here and mostly confined to Southern Portugal.

 

Redveined Darter

Sympetrum fonscolombii

Libélula de nervuras vermelhas
 

Mating pair of Redveined Darters.

Mating pair of Redveined Darters.

Female. Note the blue underside to the eye.

 

 

Newly emerged Female fell onto pond surface and could not fly free as its wings had not finished drying. But it managed to climb onto a pond plant so that it could dry off and let its wings harden.

Female.

 

 

Mating pair of Redveined Darters.

This species ranges as far as Africa and South-West Asia. Female.

 

 

Male. Note the black legs

Male.

Male.

 

 

Male hovering over Windmill Pond.

Mating while in flight over Windmill Pond.

Male. Showing red wing veins.

 

 

Ovipositing (egg-laying) while flying over Windmill Pond.

 

 

This species is found throughout Portugal. Female.

Female.

 

 

Male.

Mating Pair in tandem.

Male. Showing orange basal suffusion and red veins.

Ruddy Darter

Sympetrum sanguineum

Libélula cor de sangue
 

Female perched on Iberian Holm Oak branch - well away from any standing water.

Common Darter

Sympetrum striolatum

Libélula comum
 

Male. Note Red Pterostigmas and lack of basal suffusion on wings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chart below shows the IUCN Red list categories. The further towards the right hand side, the more serious are the threats to a particular species.

Dragonfly Species List :

  Damselflies      
1 Small Spreadwing Lestes virens virens Lestes menor Least Concern
2 Common Winter Damsel Sympecma fusca Libelinha hirbernante Least Concern
3 Dainty Bluet Coenagrion scitulum Libelinha da cabeça do gato; Libelinha delicada Least Concern
4 Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum Libelinha do cogumelo; Libelinha azul comum Least Concern
5 Goblet-marked Damselfly Erythromma lindenii Libelinha do vaso grego Least Concern
6 Iberian Bluetail or Bluetailed Damselfly Ischnura graellsii Iscnura ibero magrebina; Libelinha de Graells Least Concern
         
  Dragonflies      
7 Blue Emperor Anax imperator Imperador azul; Tira-olhos imperador Least Concern
8 Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope Tira-olhos menor Least Concern
9 Broad Scarlet or Scarlet Dragonfly Crocothemis erythraea Libélula escarlate Least Concern
10 Blacktailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum Ortétrum de cauda negra; Ortétrum reticulado Least Concern
11 Epaulet Skimmer Orthetrum chrysostigma Ortétrum de faixa branca Least Concern
12 Long Skimmer Orthetrum trinacria Ortétrum comprido Potentially Threatened
13 Redveined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii Libélula de nervuras vermelhas Least Concern
14 Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum Libélula cor de sangue Least Concern
15 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum Libélula comum Least Concern

 

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