Derbyshire List

The Derbyshire Dragonfly List

There is still much to be learnt regarding the county distribution of the following species. Why not help us fill in the jigsaw.


Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens
This species favours slow flowing rivers, often meandering and with muddy bottoms, in which to breed. It may also be found along the margins of canals.
A locally common species found in southern and eastern Derbyshire.
Flight periods. Late May to late August


Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa
This captivating secretive damselfly breeds in a variety of habitats from choked ditches in the Derbyshire lowlands to the bog pools on the moors. It breeds in canals, ponds, lakes and restored waterbodies. It prefers shallow areas with tall emergent vegetation where it will lurk often hidden from view. This species can be encountered over much of the county.
Flight periods. Late June to late September

Zygoptera Damselflies

Large red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula
This is the herald species of the Dragonfly year emerging in mid May and can be encountered over much of the county.
Flight periods. Mid May to early September

Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas
Over the last ten years this species has seen an expansion of its range up the eastern side of the county. It is most often recorded from large ponds and canals with copious amounts of vegetation with floating leaves such as water lilies. Broad -leaved pondweed or amphibious bistort.
Flight periods. Mid May to the end of August

Azure damselfly Coenagrion puella
A common Derbyshire species found in a wide range of habitats from garden ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, peaty pools and ditches.
Flight periods. Mid May to the end of August

Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum
This species can be found countywide in all habitats.
Flight periods. Late May to late September

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans
A familiar and common Damselfly found in a wide range of habitats throughout the county.
Flight periods. Mid May to late September
Suborder Anisoptera

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
Breeds in boggy pools in a hand full of sites in the Derbyshire Peak District. There has been the odd record in North East Derbyshire.
Flight period. Early July to early October.Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta
Found around ponds and lakes including gravel pits with well-vegetated margins. It also breeds in canals, ditches. It is replaced by Common Hawker Aeshna juncea up on the moors. In the 1997 Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Entomological Dragonfly report written by David Goddard. It was considered by Roy Frost ‘to be the most numerous Aeshna in most lowland areas in late summer’. Its distribution at present has a fairly southern and eastern bias.
Flight periods. Late July to early October

Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea
A most familiar Derbyshire species often found around garden ponds and lowland wetlands.
Flight periods. Late July to early October

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
A very common Derbyshire Dragonfly. Found in all habitats
Flight periods. Late July to early October.

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator
This spectacular territorial dragonfly breeds in ponds, lakes, and flooded gravel pits and colliery restoration sites where there is rich marginal vegetation.
This species has expanded its range in the county colonising the south and east with great speed over the last twenty years. It has benefited from the wealth of habitat wetland creation in the Trent Valley and Coalfield site restoration.
Flight period. Early June to late August.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly Cordulegaster boltonii
A rare species in the county. A small population is to be found relying on a Peak District peaty stream for its county status.
Flight period. Early June to early September


Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
This species is to be found in a wide range of still water habitats throughout the county.
Flight period. Late May to early August

Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa
To be found in the county around well vegetated pools canals and ditches.
Flight period. Mid May to early August

Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
A county gain over the last twenty years. It has capitalised on the gravel extraction and subsequent water bodies created and the colliery site restorations and their associated wetlands. It is one of the first species to colonise the newly created pools. It likes their open aspects and stony areas to bask on.
Flight period. Late May to early mid August.


Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum
A common county Dragon found in all habitats often to be found in large clouds in August.
Flight period. End of June to October and into early November if the weather is warm and settled.

Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum
Found in marshy margins of wetlands. Found in a small number of sites in the south and the east. This species is well worth checking for in suitable habitat to add to the county knowledge.
Flight periods. Late June to mid September.

Black Darter Sympetrum danae
A moorland speciality with the odd record of a wanderer in North East Derbyshire.
Flight period. Mid July to October.

Yellow-winged Darter Sympetrum Flaveolum
This vagrant from the continent was added to the Derbyshire list in 1996 when several were seen in the Long Eaton area

Red-veined DarterSympetrum fonscolombii
The only Derbyshire record of this wanderer from mainland Europe was of a lone male. It was on a path at Hard Rake Dew Pond SK155681 16thJuly 2000 found by Derek Whiteley. The summer of 2000 witnessed a major national influx of this species.

White Faced Darter Leucorrhinia dubia
A species, which was briefly added to the list and lost almost as quickly when the moorland pools on Stone Edge, were polluted. In the National Atlas it is commented on that the appearance in 1987-89 is now thought to have been an abortive attempt at introduction at this a atypical site

Species yet to be recorded in Derbyshire but worth looking out for:

Beautiful Damselfly Calopteryx virgo
It is found in unpolluted moderate to fast flowing streams with gravel or stony bottoms. Often in heathland and moorland but it is not confined to these. This superb damselfly may be found perhaps on any brook in the county, though perhaps more likely in the north or west.
Flight period. Mid May to early September

White-legged Damselfly Platycnemis pennipes
Breeds along unshaded sections of unpolluted streams and rivers with very slow flows. As it is a weak flier it prefers large areas of emergent vegetation in which to settle. It is also found with other damselfly species sheltering in adjacent meadows.
This species is found in the nearby county of Leicestershire. It is only a matter of time before it is found in the Trent Valley. Well worth exploring for.
Flight periods. Early June to mid August

Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum
This species breeds in fens, mesotrophic ponds, lakes, canals and peaty pools. It is found in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire and is well worth searching for in suitable habitats in the east of the county. It will be put on the Derbyshire map eventually we are sure.
Flight periods. Mid May to the beginning of August

Small Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma viridulum
This species has exploded onto the UK scene over the last few years with the initial colony found in Essex. Its initial whereabouts were guarded with much secrecy. However this was the start of the invasion with further sightings in Suffolk, Kent, Norfolk and by 2002 in Bedfordshire. It will only be a matter of time before it finds itself on the Derbyshire List. Will you be the one to find it on your patch? Practice familiarising yourself with your local Red-eyed Damselflies. You never know when that small odd-looking red eyed damselfly will put in an appearance!
It is smaller and less robust thanE. najas.
Its head is bronze-black above with no pale postocular spots; eyes reddish in male. Thorax black dorsally with two quite pale bands, sides blue in male and yellowish or brownish in female. The wings have elongated brown pterostigma, and three to four antenodal discoidal cells. The male abdomen is black with bronze reflections except for the last two segments, which are intense, blue; female abdomen yellowish or bluish laterally.
It can be easily confused with Blue Tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans. So always give a strange one a second glance. The pale postocular spots are the best reference points for recognition.
Flight period. June to early September

Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense
A species on the up in the Eastern Midlands. There is a site in North Nottinghamshire. It is hoped that it is only a matter of time before this species gains a toehold in the county. It likes well-vegetated ditches and wetlands with rich emergent marginal vegetation.
There have been claims of this species in the Long Eaton/Sawley area in the late 1990’s but no written records have yet been produced. So if you have seen one do let us know!
Flight period. A very short flight period from mid May to mid July. It needs sunny days to be seen and quickly disappears when the sun goes in.

If you are fortunate to find a new species for the county make sure you take photographic evidence and field notes for your place in history. It goes without saying to let Derbyshire Dragonflies and the County Recorder know all about your find!