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27/09/2021

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The Rathangan flight of the banded demoiselle

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Centre

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The Rathangan flight of the banded demoiselle

Banded Demoiselle. Picture: Nuala Madigan

In partnership with Rathangan Tidy Towns I have started a wildflower survey along the banks of the River Slate with funding support from the Local Authorities Water Programme.

While so far I have identified a variety of wildflowers including bittersweet, herb robert, and common daisy, it was the experience of witnessing the banded demoiselle in flight at the water’s edge that was the highlight of the first day of survey work.

The male banded demoiselle is easily identified as it has a broad band of dark colouring across the outer parts of the wings.

The only other damselfly with coloured wings is the beautiful demoiselle, whose wings are fully coloured. The body of the male banded demoiselle is metallic blue while the the body of the female is metallic green, and another significant difference between male and female is that the female does not have band across her wings instead they are clear. The adult body length is approximately 45mm.

You will always find damselflies near water as the female injects her eggs into the stems of plants under the water’s surface.

The banded demoiselle prefers water bodies that are slow moving, including rivers, canals and lakes with muddy bottoms. The young develop as nymphs. These nymphs have slim bodies and a distinguishing feature is their three feather-like tails.

After two years the nymphs will be fully grown and the adults emerge, but first they have to climb onto some bank side vegetation to shed their hard exoskeleton for the last time. The banded demsoiselle can be seen in flight from April to October each year.

Ireland has only 11 different species of damselfly and if you are interested in learning the different species now is the time!

To help you get started, the National Biodiversity Data Centre has a useful online presentation which you can find at www.biodiversityireland.ie/ projects/monitoring- schemeinitiatives/dragonfly- ireland-2019-2024/resources/.

Will you find the banded demoiselle in your community this week?

If you would like help identifying local wildlife or indeed to share your images of local wildlife encountered to be used in a future Wildlife Watch column, contact me on 045 860133 or bogs@ipcc.ie.

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