Coenagrion pulchellum (Variable Bluet/Variable Damselfly)

The curiously named Variable Bluet/Damselfly – curious because most Coenagrions exhibit a certain amount of variability in their markings.

We made our inaugural trip to the excellent Wicken Fen rather late in the 2011 season. I was hoping to see my first Variable Damselfly and lo, it delivered. We found a pleasing flush of these characters on our return to Norfolk after many years in 2013, pleasing because they are not a species that features locally. More recent pictures are from the Norfolk Broads area, which seems to be very rich in C. pulchellum.

[I have a collection of comparison charts to help with the identification of the blue-striped damselflies.]

Id Notes

  • bears the Coenagrion “spur” on the side of the thorax
  • ♂ – antehumeral stripes are classically broken resembling exclamation marks
  • ♂ – S9 more than half black
  • ♂ – black mark on S2 resembles a stemmed wine glass (but the stem can be missing, apparently)
  • ♂ – black mark on S9 resembles a vampire bat (perhaps a little fanciful)
  • ♀ – two forms, green/dark/gynomorph and blue, best distinguished from congeners by the pronotum shape [Ed: good luck!]
female – blue/andromorph form
female – dark/green/gynomorph form
female pronotum details
in tandem in cop

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