Sussex Dragonfly Group

Willow Emerald Damselfly
Chalcolestes viridis (Vander Linden, 1825)
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Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Lestidae

Willow Emerald Damselfly
Chalcolestes viridis

Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Lestidae

A dark metallic green damselfly with pale wing spots (pterostigma). As with other Emerald damselflies, it rests with its wings outstretched. Characteristically, it spends much of its time in trees overhanging standing water. Its history in Sussex is very recent.

Chalcolestes viridis
1 / 9
three in ‘tandem’
Photo: Simon Linington
Chalcolestes viridis
2 / 9
female
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
3 / 9
female
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
4 / 9
female
Photo: Simon Linington
Chalcolestes viridis
5 / 9
female
Photo: Simon Linington
Chalcolestes viridis
6 / 9
male
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
7 / 9
male
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
8 / 9
ovipositing
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
9 / 9
pair in tandem
Photo: David Sadler

More images

National status
A recent colonist with very few twentieth century records. First recorded in numbers from Suffolk during 2009. It has since spread to much of south-eastern England.

Status in Sussex
Although its “discovery” was recent (Parr 1994), the first county record for the Willow Emerald Damselfly dates back to 1979. D. Chelmick (pers. comm.) reports that an adult male was found dead on 22 September by D. Okines at Hankham clay pit, an old quarry on the edge of Glynleigh Level, near Pevensey. Although he himself visited the site - containing small to medium sized pools dominated by Juncus spp. - Chelmick found no further specimens. Strangely enough the first Kent record of this species was also made retrospectively with the re-examination of an exuvia collected in 1992 but misidentified at the time (Brook and Brook 2003). The Dragonflies of Sussex (2004) noted that the species was common just over the Channel and a clear candidate for consolidating its status on British shores. This has since come to pass with the first records at the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s reserve of Woods Mill in September 2016 found by Dave Sadler. These records were followed in subsequent years by further records from that reserve and a general consolidation there with 30 adults (10 pairs ovipositing) on 13 September 2019. The first record away from Woods Mill was in 2017 at Warnham LNR and, subsequently, records have come from scattered locations across the county (14 1km squares up to and including 2020).

Distribution at 1km scale

Chalcolestes viridis distribution (all)
Chalcolestes viridis distribution pre 1980
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 1980 - 1989
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 1990 - 1999
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 2000 - 2009
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 2010 - 2019
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 2010 on

Flight times
Mid August - Late September

Phenology (adult)

Chalcolestes viridis phenology (all)
Chalcolestes viridis phenology pre 1980
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 1980 - 1989
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 1990 - 1999
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 2000 - 2009
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 2010 - 2019
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 2010 on
Chalcolestes viridis habitat
1 / 1
Willow Emerald Damselfly habitat at Woods Mill
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Usually near ponds, canals or other still water with overhanging trees. The eggs are laid into the bark of willow or alder ( BDS website).

Similar species
The potential confusion species are discussed under Emerald Damselfly (where there is a photographic comparison).

A dark metallic green damselfly with pale wing spots (pterostigma). As with other Emerald damselflies, it rests with its wings outstretched. Characteristically, it spends much of its time in trees overhanging standing water. Its history in Sussex is very recent.

Chalcolestes viridis
1 / 9
three in ‘tandem’
Photo: Simon Linington
Chalcolestes viridis
2 / 9
female
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
3 / 9
female
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
4 / 9
female
Photo: Simon Linington
Chalcolestes viridis
5 / 9
female
Photo: Simon Linington
Chalcolestes viridis
6 / 9
male
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
7 / 9
male
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
8 / 9
ovipositing
Photo: David Sadler
Chalcolestes viridis
9 / 9
pair in tandem
Photo: David Sadler

National status
A recent colonist with very few twentieth century records. First recorded in numbers from Suffolk during 2009. It has since spread to much of south-eastern England.

Status in Sussex
Although its “discovery” was recent (Parr 1994), the first county record for the Willow Emerald Damselfly dates back to 1979. D. Chelmick (pers. comm.) reports that an adult male was found dead on 22 September by D. Okines at Hankham clay pit, an old quarry on the edge of Glynleigh Level, near Pevensey. Although he himself visited the site - containing small to medium sized pools dominated by Juncus spp. - Chelmick found no further specimens. Strangely enough the first Kent record of this species was also made retrospectively with the re-examination of an exuvia collected in 1992 but misidentified at the time (Brook and Brook 2003). The Dragonflies of Sussex (2004) noted that the species was common just over the Channel and a clear candidate for consolidating its status on British shores. This has since come to pass with the first records at the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s reserve of Woods Mill in September 2016 found by Dave Sadler. These records were followed in subsequent years by further records from that reserve and a general consolidation there with 30 adults (10 pairs ovipositing) on 13 September 2019. The first record away from Woods Mill was in 2017 at Warnham LNR and, subsequently, records have come from scattered locations across the county (14 1km squares up to and including 2020).

Distribution at 1km scale

Chalcolestes viridis distribution (all)
Chalcolestes viridis distribution bre 1980
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 1980 - 1989
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 1990 - 1999
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 2000 - 2009
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 2010 - 2019
Chalcolestes viridis distribution 2020 on

Flight times
Mid August - Late September

Phenology (adult)

Chalcolestes viridis phenology (all)
Chalcolestes viridis phenology pre 1980
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 1980 - 1989
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 1990 - 1999
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 2000 - 2009
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 2010 - 2019
Chalcolestes viridis phenology 2020 on
Chalcolestes viridis habitat
1 / 1
Willow Emerald Damselfly habitat at Woods Mill
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Usually near ponds, canals or other still water with overhanging trees. The eggs are laid into the bark of willow or alder ( BDS website).

Similar species
The potential confusion species are discussed under Emerald Damselfly (where there is a photographic comparison).