The Azure Damselfly is a widespread and early flier. Present at many Gateshead sites, preferring smaller, sheltered water-bodies or slow moving rivers and streams. Good numbers at Kibblesworth Brickwork Pools, Gibside Lily Pond and Thornley Woods Pond, but best place for study and photographs is Far Pasture access road where the keen observer can find it in all stages of adult development amongst the roadside vegetation in late May and through June. Usually seen on ponds from late May to late August, latest record was Sept 5th at Thornley Woods Pond in 2012.
|Two views of mature male Azure Damselfly|
Similar to other bluets but in Gateshead only confusion species
is Common Blue damsel, and beware 'cos most sites hold both.
|Close-up showing the U-shape on segment two of the|
Azure damsel male
|This is an immature male, a striking mix of pale pink and mid-blue,|
with chestnut-coloured eyes.
Males take on average 13 days to mature fully and only when mature will they
return to the breeding sites.
Females come in two forms, a green form (around 90%) and rarer blue form (around 10%)
|Female Azure Damselflies|
Green form (top) Blue form (bottom)
Note on the green form the dark dorsal colouring is complete,
whereas on the blue form gaps along the back show the
rich blue colouring.
|This immature green-form female is typically pale|
|This is a teneral female of the green-form|
(ie not long emerged, as told by the milky wings
which have not yet dried out properly)
|This individual is a bit of a quandary, having the complete markings|
of the green form, but is quite obviously blue)
Azure damsels are fairly weak fliers, so tend to stick close to the margins of ponds where there is plenty of cover, and males aren't territorial, so will be found patrolling in numbers close to the water surface (usually near the shore) and perch near the top of plants to scan for females.
|The Mating Wheel|
This is formed when a male finds a female in pond-side vegetation
and takes place at the site unless there is too much disturbance from other
rampant males which will try to uncouple a pair and muscle in on the female.
|Copulation takes around 30 minutes then its off to the pond|
for a 90 minute ovipositing session (again if undisturbed)
The male will stay firmly attached to the female during egg-laying in
the Sentinel position, to fight off potential rivals.
Eggs are laid in floating or emergent vegetation, and 2-3 hundred
will be laid in a typical session.
Females especially are vulnerable during egg-laying, as they probe underwater they can be attacked by predators such as newts and diving beetles, but as long as their luck holds out, will return to the pond on every sunny day to mate and lay eggs.
Eggs hatch in 2-5 weeks and the larval stage lasts for about a year, emerging early summer the following year.