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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 39

OCCURRENCE OF THE SMALL RED-EYED DAMSELFLY ERYTHROMMA VIRIDULUM IN WEST SUFFOLK DURING 2002 DARREN K. UNDERWOOD Following on from the recent reports of the discovery of Small Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma viridulum at sites in East Suffolk (e.g. Macklin, 2001, Sherman, 2002), I can now confirm the discovery of the species in West Suffolk (v.c. 26) during 2002. On 4 August 2002, I was passing the moat at Melford Hall in Long Melford and stopped to check the damselflies present there. A male damselfly that was at rest on floating Enteromorpha weed immediately aroused my suspicions as it appeared reminiscent to the Small Red-eyed Damselflies that I had previously seen in Essex during July 2000. It appeared slightly smaller and daintier looking than Red-eyed Damselfly E. najas (three males of which were also present for later comparison) with a slimmer looking thorax and abdomen. Significantly, the rear end of the abdomen was curved distinctly upwards. Through 10× binoculars it appeared to show blue on the sides of the second and eighth segments of the abdomen. This was enough to prompt me to run home and return shortly afterwards with a telescope to attempt to confirm the identification. With good 30× telescope views, this proved relatively easy and all the crucial identification features were noted (see Cham, 2000); the blue coloration on the sides of the abdominal segments two and eight (as previously noted), bright, orangey-red eyes, brownish thorax with thin thoracic stripes and the diagnostic black ‘x’ mark on the upperside of the tenth abdominal segment. In all, seven male Small Red-eyed Damselfly were seen on this visit, one of which was also seen to be quite aggressive to a nearby male Red-eyed Damselfly; behaviour that has been noted elsewhere (e.g. Sherman, 2002). Repeat visits over the following month produced the following sightings – at least five, 10 August (minimum of four males and one female, including a pair seen in tandem); two males, 17 August (one of which was netted for confirmation ‘in the hand’ and subsequent photographing by Matthew Deans); two males, 25 August and at least five males, 1 September. All sightings were made during periods of bright sunshine and none could be found on the moat during periods of dull or overcast conditions. Several unsuccessful visits were made during such conditions and, presumably, the damselflies were resting-up in vegetation at these times. One interesting aspect of behaviour that supports this idea was noted on 4 August, when, at the imminent approach of a quite heavy thunderstorm, all the individuals present flew in unison straight to the upper reaches of a nearby tree. They certainly seemed to sense it coming! The above appear to be the first records for Vice County 26. At around this time, several sightings were made just across the border in Essex by Keith Morris at the Glemsford Pits S.S.S.I. (hundreds) and by Steve Cham at Liston (a single male) (both pers. comm.). During 2002, new records also came from sites in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and coastal Kent amongst others, as well as the first records for Sussex (Parr, 2002). In addition, there were the first definite reports of

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 39 (2003)








Figure 1. Latest distribution of Small Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma viridulum in England, 2002. confirmed breeding – in Kent and on the Isle of Wight. Steve Cham of the British Dragonfly Society has kindly provided the data for the accompanying map showing the latest distribution of the species in England. As can be seen, there are now many records from inland sites and observers should consider the possibility of the species turning up at any suitable inland or coastal locality. Finally, I would like to thank all the above named individuals for their assistance in the production of this note.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 39 (2003)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 39

References Cham, S. (2000). Red-eyed Damselflies. British Wildlife 11: 324–326 Macklin, R. (2001). Small Red-eyed Damselflies (Erythromma viridulum) in Suffolk. White Admiral 50: 11. Parr, A. (2003). Migrant Dragonflies in 2002. Including recent decisions and comments by the Odonata Records Committee. Atropos 18: 18–24. Sherman, N. (2002). The discovery and observations of Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum) at a Suffolk site in 2001. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc., 38: 124–125. Darren K. Underwood 29 Cordell Road, Long Melford, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 9EH email:

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 39 (2003)


Darren Underwood

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