Beautiful Demoiselle - Calopteryx virgo

Adult Size

Length: 45 - 49mm   Hindwing Length: 27 – 36mm

Distinguishing features

One of the two species of damselfly in Britain with pigmented wings. They both belong to the genus Calopteryx. They are the largest damselflies in the UK.

Identification - for help with terms see glossary

Mature males

Males are unmistakeable having a blue-green metallic abdomen with broad brown-black wings with blue iridescent veins.

Immature males

Have dark brown/green wings and brown eyes.

Mature Females

Abdomen is metallic green/copper, the wings are dark brown with iridescent veins which look golden in sunlight.

Immature females

Have paler brown wings which can be confused with mature female Banded Demoiselles and as they may occur together care must be taken with identification.


Mainly found along streams and rivers, particularly those with sand or gravel bottoms. Can be found on heathland streams as larvae can tolerate acid conditions. Often found in very shaded areas.


Both males are females have a delicate butterfly like flight. Males are territorial and patrol bankside vegetation. Females like most odonata stay away from water unless breeding. Both will stray away from open water to feed.

Status and distribution

Locally abundant along clean unpolluted rivers in Dorset with emergent bankside vegetation e.g. River Stour & River Allen.

Flight period

Main flight period is late May to end August.

Similar species

The Banded Demoiselle is the only other British damselfly with pigmented wings.

More photographs

Click on the photos below to enlarge...


 Mature Male

Mature Female

Immature Male

All photographs by kind permission & © of Ken Dolbear unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.