Sussex Dragonfly Group

Common Blue Damselfly
Enallagma cyathigerum (Charpentier, 1840)
« Coenagrion scitulum | Erythromma najas »

Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Coenagrionidae

Common Blue Damselfly
Enallagma cyathigerum

Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Coenagrionidae

With the Azure, our other very common blue damselfly. Where the Azure favours smaller, more sheltered ponds, the Common Blue prefers larger bodies of water. However, they can occur in the same habitat, so close checking of the salient markings is essential. The mushroom- or oval-shaped black mark at the start of the abdomen in the male is clearly distinguishable from the wine glass marking of the Azure - once you’ve got your eye in. Females are mainly black, marked over green or blue. Both sexes have large blue eye spots, joined by a bar.

Enallagma cyathigerum
1 / 8
teneral female
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
2 / 8
pair in mating wheel
Photo: Simon Linington
Enallagma cyathigerum
3 / 8
female
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
4 / 8
female
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
5 / 8
male
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
6 / 8
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Enallagma cyathigerum
7 / 8
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Enallagma cyathigerum
8 / 8
pair in tandem
Photo: David Sadler

More images

National status
Abundant throughout mainland and offshore Britain.

Status in Sussex
Common, although more surveying is still needed to clarify its exact distribution. It is questionable, for example, whether the epithet ‘Common’ might have encouraged observers to name too many blue damselflies as this species. On the other hand, has it been unrecorded given the number of gaps still apparent in the maps?

Distribution at 1km scale

Enallagma cyathigerum distribution (all)
Enallagma cyathigerum distribution pre 1980
Enallagma cyathigerum distribution 1980 - 1989
Enallagma cyathigerum distribution 1990 - 1999
Enallagma cyathigerum distribution 2000 - 2009
Enallagma cyathigerum distribution 2010 - 2019
Enallagma cyathigerum distribution 2010 on

Historical records
Lucas and Bloomfield (1905) described this species as scarce in Sussex, and reported Unwin’s statement that it was rare in the Brighton district. Craven (1922) reported finding it near Polegate in 1915, and that at that time there were only two other known sites, at Brighton and Liphook. Dannreuther (1939) described it as “generally distributed” in East Sussex and added (Dannreuther 1945) that “in 1941-42, it was common and seen ovipositing at Hastings”. He mentioned (1945) that the “only certain West Sussex record is of 2 males at Lynchmere in September 1923”. By contrast (Chelmick 1979) regarded it as “widespread and common”, an observation strengthened by the survey for the Dragonflies of Sussex (2004).

Flight times
Early May - late September. There is evidence of the flight time becoming earlier.

Phenology (adult)

Enallagma cyathigerum phenology (all)
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology pre 1980
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 1980 - 1989
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 1990 - 1999
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 2000 - 2009
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 2010 - 2019
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 2010 on
Enallagma cyathigerum habitat
1 / 1
Common Blue Damselfly habitat at Wakehurst Place reedswamp
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Large open waters but also ponds, rivers and slow-flowing streams. Chelmick (1979) stated it favours more acidic sites, but our survey notes a wide distribution across the non-acid landscapes of the Low Weald clay and the Coastal Plain.

Conservation
As its name implies, this is a far from threatened species. However, its preference for large open water habitats makes it vulnerable to neglect if vegetation growth goes unchecked. The positive management of large lakes in our country estates is invaluable in this respect. New water bodies, as an after-use of gravel-pit workings for example, provide the opportunity to create new suitable habitat.

Similar species
See Azure Damselfly for key differences from similar species and comparative photos.

With the Azure, our other very common blue damselfly. Where the Azure favours smaller, more sheltered ponds, the Common Blue prefers larger bodies of water. However, they can occur in the same habitat, so close checking of the salient markings is essential. The mushroom- or oval-shaped black mark at the start of the abdomen in the male is clearly distinguishable from the wine glass marking of the Azure - once you’ve got your eye in. Females are mainly black, marked over green or blue. Both sexes have large blue eye spots, joined by a bar.

Enallagma cyathigerum
1 / 8
teneral female
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
2 / 8
pair in mating wheel
Photo: Simon Linington
Enallagma cyathigerum
3 / 8
female
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
4 / 8
female
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
5 / 8
male
Photo: David Sadler
Enallagma cyathigerum
6 / 8
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Enallagma cyathigerum
7 / 8
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Enallagma cyathigerum
8 / 8
pair in tandem
Photo: David Sadler

National status
Abundant throughout mainland and offshore Britain.

Status in Sussex
Common, although more surveying is still needed to clarify its exact distribution. It is questionable, for example, whether the epithet ‘Common’ might have encouraged observers to name too many blue damselflies as this species. On the other hand, has it been unrecorded given the number of gaps still apparent in the maps?

Distribution at 1km scale

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

Historical records
Lucas and Bloomfield (1905) described this species as scarce in Sussex, and reported Unwin’s statement that it was rare in the Brighton district. Craven (1922) reported finding it near Polegate in 1915, and that at that time there were only two other known sites, at Brighton and Liphook. Dannreuther (1939) described it as “generally distributed” in East Sussex and added (Dannreuther 1945) that “in 1941-42, it was common and seen ovipositing at Hastings”. He mentioned (1945) that the “only certain West Sussex record is of 2 males at Lynchmere in September 1923”. By contrast (Chelmick 1979) regarded it as “widespread and common”, an observation strengthened by the survey for the Dragonflies of Sussex (2004).

Flight times
Early May - late September. There is evidence of the flight time becoming earlier.

Phenology (adult)

Enallagma cyathigerum phenology (all)
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology pre 1980
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 1980 - 1989
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 1990 - 1999
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 2000 - 2009
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 2010 - 2019
Enallagma cyathigerum phenology 2020 on
Enallagma cyathigerum habitat
1 / 1
Common Blue Damselfly habitat at Wakehurst Place reedswamp
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Large open waters but also ponds, rivers and slow-flowing streams. Chelmick (1979) stated it favours more acidic sites, but our survey notes a wide distribution across the non-acid landscapes of the Low Weald clay and the Coastal Plain.

Conservation
As its name implies, this is a far from threatened species. However, its preference for large open water habitats makes it vulnerable to neglect if vegetation growth goes unchecked. The positive management of large lakes in our country estates is invaluable in this respect. New water bodies, as an after-use of gravel-pit workings for example, provide the opportunity to create new suitable habitat.

Similar species
See Azure Damselfly for key differences from similar species and comparative photos.