Small Red-eyed Damselfly - Erythromma viridulum

Adult Size

Overall length: 26 - 32mm   Hindwing length: 16 - 20mm

Distinguishing features

Very similar to Red-eyed Damselfly in habitat choice and behaviour but significantly smaller and daintier looking but could therefore by easily overlooked and under-recorded. Great care should be taken with the identification of this species. A very recent coloniser of Britain from Europe first recorded in 1999 in Essex.

Identification - for help with terms see glossary

Mature males

Have black abdomen with bright blue markings on segment 9 & 10. Segment 10 has small black markings that forms a kind of ‘x’ shape. When viewed from the side the thorax looks blue, and along the abdomen segments 2, 3 & 8 are almost entirely blue, whereas they are black in male Red-eyed damselflies. The thorax above looks bronze-black & has very pale incomplete antehumeral stripes. The eyes are deep red in colour

Mature females

Have similar bronze-black thorax as male but has a complete antehumeral stripes from above which separates it from female Red-eyed Damselfly. The antehumeral stripes and sides of thorax can vary in colour between yellow, green and blue depending on age. Segment 10 is solid blue when mature. Eyes are yellowish brown in colour.


Found in similar habitat to Red-eyed Damselfly, still water habitats such as lakes, ponds, gravel pits, canals and ditches, which contain floating vegetation such as pondweed and algae.


Males will often be associated with floating leaves or pond weed where they will wait for passing females

Status and distribution

First found in Essex, it has spread remarkably quickly to the rest of East Anglia and the south east and is slowly moving north and to the west. Found at just a couple of sites so far in Dorset so worth looking out for.

Flight period

Main flight period is mid June to September, peaking in August, usually after peak of Red-eyed Damselfly.

Similar species

The similar, but larger and commoner Red-eyed Damselfly is sometimes found in the same habitat and careful observation is needed to distinguish the two species. Could be confused with the Blue-tailed Damselflies, but these although having blue tails do not have red eyes.

More photographs

Click on the photos below to enlarge...


Mature Male

Mating Pair

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