White-legged Damselfly - Platycnemis pennipes
Adult sizeOverall length: 35 - 37mm Hindwing length: 19 - 23mm
Distinguishing featuresA very pale damselfly, the male is light blue with white legs. The only species other than demoiselles where males engage in a courtship display. Found along clean unpolluted rivers.
Identification - for help with terms see glossary
The distinguishing feature of this species are the broad feathery white legs which males use in display. Mature males have a pale sky blue abdomen with paired black stripes until segments 7 – 10 which become broad black bands. Eyes also distinctively bright blue. Thorax has broad pale blue antehumeral stripes.
Resemble immature females being cream/orange with spots where stripes will develop. Eyes are brown.
Abdomen is a pale yellow-green with similar black marking on abdomen as mature males. Have paler white legs than male. Eyes are pale green/blue. Antehumeral stripes yellow/green.
Abdomen is a very pale creamy white known as the lactea phase with pale spots. Eyes are brown.
HabitatPreferred breeding habitat is well vegetated slow moving rivers and canals usually in unshaded sections. Can be rarely found in lakes and ponds. Shares similar habitat preference to the Banded Demoiselle and often found in association with that species.
BehaviourHas delicate flight and can easily be found in large numbers in bankside vegetation where males with search for females. The pale immature phases are very well camouflaged.
Status and distributionHas a southern distribution and occurs only as far as the midlands in England and to mid Wales. Locally abundant in preferred habitat. Very common on rivers such as Stour and Allen in Dorset.
Flight periodMain flight period is mid May to Late August, peaking in June and July.
Similar speciesVery distinctive in every phase and only species with white legs, however, immature forms of the Common Blue Damselfly and Azure Damselflly can have pale bodies and legs which may need to be examined closely.
More photographsClick on the photos below to enlarge...
All photographs by kind permission & © of Ken Dolbear unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.