The Demoiselle, Natures Fresh Water Wonder
My first sighting of a Demoiselle (from the Dragonfly family), was in North Devon whilst walking up a woodland stream. Female Demoiselle are brown in color and not as easy to spot but the males, are an incredible metallic blue, green and black in color. Unlike Dragonflies and Damselflies, the Demoiselle flutters like a butterfly and their magnificent metallic display of color, seems to flash on and off in much the same way as a Kingfisher’s vibrantly colored feathers reflect in the sunlight as they take flight.
Demoiselle cover a wide area all over Europe and the winged adults, can be seen in the UK between May and August. If you have clean, fresh water in your garden you might just be lucky enough to see one of these impressive insects. This year 2018, I spotted many male Demoiselle’s flying about on my nursery. It does seem that Demoiselle’s preferred habitats are sand and shingle based woodland streams and rivers. Demoiselle’s are attracted to cool, clear moving water that is usually surrounded by natural vegetation, where they can be seen resting in sunny stream clearings or dappled shade, or just fluttering among-st the stream-side plants.
There are only two species of Demoiselle in the UK and the other is the very attractive Banded Demoiselle. Both winged species and their larvae are predators feeding on other insects and their larvae. Adult females go under the water to lay up to 300 eggs among-st submerged oxygenating plants such as Ranunculus Aquatilis (Water Crowfoot), and Callitriche Species (Starwort’s). The females prefer to lay their eggs in stream-side shallow pools where there is no current. When the eggs hatch, the larvae go through various stages of molts until they eventually have grown to a length of 1.5 cm and this takes place over a two year period. The larvae have long legs which are especially designed by mother nature for gripping onto submerged aquatic vegetation that might be in the flow of running water. Overwintering in mud and silt, in spring and early summer, the two year old larvae will then climb out of the water onto the stems of marginal plants, and just the same as Dragonflies and Damselflies, the winged adults hatch out of their Nymph bodies and dry their wings in the sun before taking their first flight.
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