Beautiful Demoiselles

The middle of the day is an excellent time to watch dragonflies and damselflies.


Damselflies sometimes play second fiddle to their larger cousins but they are absolute jewels. The males are reasonably conspicuous once you look for them, but the duller females often keep a very low profile.

Two male Beautiful Demoiselles try to out-do each other's moves over a woodland stream

I watched these two male Beautiful Demoiselles in the dappled light above a wooded stream at Woods Mill, vying for the attention of a female keeping careful watch from the waterside nettles.


They are one of two species of demoiselle in Sussex, indeed Britain, the other being the slightly more eyecatching Banded Demoiselle, with its boldy marked wing pattern.


The demoiselles are large damselfies with paddle-shaped wings and a curious floppy — but elegant — flight.


Males guard a patch of water they have earmarked for any 'lucky ladies' to place their eggs, leading them there with a brightly coloured tip beneath the tip of their body.

A female watches on from the streamside vegetation

Females deposit their eggs under water almost immediately after mating. In the fierce competition to pass on their own genes, males remove any sperm from her previous matings.


Sussex is a stronghold for the species in South East England, the species having quite a westerly distribution in Britain.