Amongst the many wonderful sights that nature can provide around the Cotswold Water Park, the summertime spectacle of Banded Demoiselle Damselflies gleaming in the sunlight as they ‘dance’ around our watercourses, is one of the very best.
Named after the broad, dark-blue, band across the otherwise translucent wings of the males, which also have shiny blue bodies; they are one of the largest of our damselflies, with a 60mm wingspan. The females have metallic green bodies and duller, non-banded wings. Damselflies can be told from the larger dragonflies by their weaker, more fluttering, flight and the ability to fold their wings over their backs. The only damselfly which the Banded could be easily confused with is the Beautiful Demoiselle, which can also be seen in our area (though in much smaller numbers, you are likely to see at least 100 Banded to every 1 Beautiful). The male Beautiful Demoiselle lacks the band on the wings – which are entirely a shimmering dark blue.
Demoiselles are usually found along flowing water and are common on most of the small rivers and streams which meander through the CWP. The Thames Path provides convenient access to areas where they are easy to see and some can also be present on gravel pits when they happen to wander. They prefer areas with luxuriant bankside vegetation, which provides cover when they are resting. They become most active, and easiest to see, on warm, sunny days. Food involves insects (Caddis Flies, Alder Flies etc.) and the demoiselles are in turn hunted by dragonflies: life can be tough in the wild!
The Damselflies can start to appear in late April, are prolific through May – August and can be seen into September. So, if you want to enjoy them, go searching in the summer months when the sun is out.