Sussex Dragonfly Group

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly (Scarce Ischnura)
Ischnura pumilio (Charpentier, 1825)
« Ischnura elegans | Lestes barbarus »

Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Coenagrionidae

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
(Scarce Ischnura)
Ischnura pumilio

Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Coenagrionidae

This species looks set for colonisation of Sussex. However, the males of this species could easily be overlooked because they are very similar to those of the Blue-tailed Damselfly. Additionally, because it requires habitat at an early stage of succession, any colonies are likely to be transient without careful habitat maintenance.

Ischnura pumilio
1 / 7
immature female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
2 / 7
immature female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
3 / 7
immature male
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
4 / 7
ovipositing female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
5 / 7
female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
6 / 7
male
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
7 / 7

Photo: Unknown

National status
At the turn of the century it was thought to be extinct, but in recent times has shown some range expansion. It is most numerous in southwest counties of England and Wales, but there are additional sites scattered across England. Classed as nationally scarce in the British Red Data Book of Insects (see BDS website).

Status in Sussex
The first reports of this species in Sussex were in May and July 1900 when it was recorded from Crowhurst and Abbots Wood (near Polegate), respectively, by S. Blenkarn (Danreuther 1939). Moving forward 112 years, fifteen adults including five copulating pairs were recorded near Cooden Beach on 29 May 2012 by Chris Bindon. Then one was found at Sompting Brook by Tom Forward on 19 June 2020 during an insect survey. The site was subsequently studied by Dave Sadler who found a breeding colony of up to 30 individuals including an ovipositing female on 22 July.

Distribution at 1km scale

Ischnura pumilio distribution (all)
Ischnura pumilio distribution pre 1980
Ischnura pumilio distribution 1980 - 1989
Ischnura pumilio distribution 1990 - 1999
Ischnura pumilio distribution 2000 - 2009
Ischnura pumilio distribution 2010 - 2019
Ischnura pumilio distribution 2010 on

Flight times
May - September ( BDS website).

Phenology (adult)

Ischnura pumilio phenology (all)
Ischnura pumilio phenology pre 1980
Ischnura pumilio phenology 1980 - 1989
Ischnura pumilio phenology 1990 - 1999
Ischnura pumilio phenology 2000 - 2009
Ischnura pumilio phenology 2010 - 2019
Ischnura pumilio phenology 2010 on

Habitat
Usually found in shallow wetland sites such as bog pools or slow flowing water, fed by seepages and flushes. It appears to prefer early successional habitats with minimal vegetation, although some emergent plants are required at breeding sites. A common feature of most sites is a degree of habitat disturbance, which maintains bare substrate, and the openness of the vegetation ( BDS website).

Conservation
Threats are given on the BDS website as alterations of hydrology leading to drying out of sites, habitat loss and fragmentation, and plant succession leading to encroachment.

Similar species
This species is identified from the widespread Blue-tailed Damselfly by the males having blue (usually with two black spots) on segment 9 of the abdomen (in the commoner species, the blue is on segment 8 with 9 being black). Females are similar to females of both Red-eyed Damselfly and Small Red-eyed Damselfly in that they lack a coloured band at the tip of the abdomen found in female Blue-tailed Damselflies. However, they lack antehumeral stripes on the thorax and the small black spur on the side of the thorax of the two Red-eyed species. The immature female has an unmistakeable bright orange (aurantiaca) phase.

This species looks set for colonisation of Sussex. However, the males of this species could easily be overlooked because they are very similar to those of the Blue-tailed Damselfly. Additionally, because it requires habitat at an early stage of succession, any colonies are likely to be transient without careful habitat maintenance.

Ischnura pumilio
1 / 7
immature female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
2 / 7
immature female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
3 / 7
immature male
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
4 / 7
ovipositing female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
5 / 7
female
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
6 / 7
male
Photo: Unknown
Ischnura pumilio
7 / 7

Photo: Unknown

National status
At the turn of the century it was thought to be extinct, but in recent times has shown some range expansion. It is most numerous in southwest counties of England and Wales, but there are additional sites scattered across England. Classed as nationally scarce in the British Red Data Book of Insects (see BDS website).

Status in Sussex
The first reports of this species in Sussex were in May and July 1900 when it was recorded from Crowhurst and Abbots Wood (near Polegate), respectively, by S. Blenkarn (Danreuther 1939). Moving forward 112 years, fifteen adults including five copulating pairs were recorded near Cooden Beach on 29 May 2012 by Chris Bindon. Then one was found at Sompting Brook by Tom Forward on 19 June 2020 during an insect survey. The site was subsequently studied by Dave Sadler who found a breeding colony of up to 30 individuals including an ovipositing female on 22 July.

Distribution at 1km scale

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

Flight times
May - September ( BDS website).

Phenology (adult)

Ischnura pumilio phenology (all)
Ischnura pumilio phenology pre 1980
Ischnura pumilio phenology 1980 - 1989
Ischnura pumilio phenology 1990 - 1999
Ischnura pumilio phenology 2000 - 2009
Ischnura pumilio phenology 2010 - 2019
Ischnura pumilio phenology 2020 on

Habitat
Usually found in shallow wetland sites such as bog pools or slow flowing water, fed by seepages and flushes. It appears to prefer early successional habitats with minimal vegetation, although some emergent plants are required at breeding sites. A common feature of most sites is a degree of habitat disturbance, which maintains bare substrate, and the openness of the vegetation ( BDS website).

Conservation
Threats are given on the BDS website as alterations of hydrology leading to drying out of sites, habitat loss and fragmentation, and plant succession leading to encroachment.

Similar species
This species is identified from the widespread Blue-tailed Damselfly by the males having blue (usually with two black spots) on segment 9 of the abdomen (in the commoner species, the blue is on segment 8 with 9 being black). Females are similar to females of both Red-eyed Damselfly and Small Red-eyed Damselfly in that they lack a coloured band at the tip of the abdomen found in female Blue-tailed Damselflies. However, they lack antehumeral stripes on the thorax and the small black spur on the side of the thorax of the two Red-eyed species. The immature female has an unmistakeable bright orange (aurantiaca) phase.